Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye takes care of special-needs children turned away by “Kiev Patriarchate”

Zaporozhye, Ukraine, December 21, 2017

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Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye visited the new premises of the “Prometheus” center for socialization and rehabilitation of children with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism on Tuesday, on the feast of the great St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, to congratulate his wards and their parents and the staff on the feast and their new facilities. The children had been turned out on the streets in August by “Bishop Photios” of the “Kiev Patriarchate,” reports the site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

As the parents of the children themselves relate, “No one has wanted us for a long time, with their problems; everyone has turned away from us, until we turned personally to Vladyka Luke.”

“Many are fighting now about what the difference is between the ‘Kiev Patriarchate’ and the canonical Church. The public is literally electrified by it. For us it’s obvious. ‘Bishop’ Photios of the ‘Kiev Patriarchate’ decided to put his residence in the center’s building, and he drove us out on the street, not worrying at all about what would happen with us. Thanks to the personal involvement of Vladyka Luke, the priests of the diocese, the deputies of the city council, and all people of good will who are not indifferent, of which, thankfully, there are many in our city, we now have bright, spacious premises, a roof over our heads, and our children have the chance to integrate in with their peers as soon as possible,” they said.

The center, working with children with disabilities, is unique not only to Zaporozhye. Foreign experts travel there to exchange experiences. Many of their methods, in particular those for working with children with autism, developed by the staff, are exclusive to the Zaporozhye center.

Local television showed on August 2 how parents of the children had to throw wheelchairs over a fence as they were kicked out by the “Kiev Patriarchate” bishop who stated that he had a decree that he needed the center’s former premises to house himself and his clergy, who until then were living in rented apartments.

After the children and staff were kicked out, city authorities stepped in, and in early September it was announced that the center would be allocated two blocks in School No. 102, thanks to the intercession of Met. Luke, to whom the parents of the special-needs children had appealed for help.

Center director Angelika Psareva stated during the hierarch’s Tuesday visit that “only the Orthodox faith helps us survive and endure the difficult conditions of our lives. It strengthens our spirit and the spirit of our children, inspires confidence in their own strength, and gives hopes for a happy tomorrow, showing the best examples of love for God and neighbor.”

The director also heartily thanked Met. Luke for the wonderful feast given to the children that day, and for his diocese’s participation and care for the children and their future.  


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