Zhidichin, Ukraine, February 25, 2019
Two matushkas of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church were injured on Friday when the Church of St. Nicholas in the village of Zhidichin in the Volyn Province was forcibly seized by radicals from the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP).
As reported by Fr. Roman Geleta, his matushka was injured when a rock hit her just below the eye, and his mother, also a matushka at the parish, was hit in the forehead. Both priests’ wives were taken away from the scene to be examined, reports the press service of the Volyn Diocese.
According to Fr. Roman, the faithful of the parish gathered at their church of their own accord to try to prevent the seizure, though the schismatics were able to break through the crowd and cut the locks on the door. The group of raiders included both locals and people brought in from outside. The entrance to the church territory was blocked by a car.
At the beginning of the clash, the abbot of a KP monastery in Lutsk arrived and led an akathist with the gathered schismatics. Students of the KP’s Volyn Academy were among those gathered near the church. Before the seizure, the group demanded the keys to the church from the rector, Fr. Vladimir Geleta, but he refused.
They then cut the locks to the church and went inside to “take inventory.” They also lite a fire in the church yard and began to “protect” the church. It is unknown if any of the personal belongings of the parish clergy have been taken since no one from the canonical community has been allowed inside the church.
Leaflets with schismatic propaganda have been distributed in the village sine the beginning of the month, and Fr. Roman even received a “decree” from Mikhail Zinkevich, a hierarch of the KP, about the local deanery’s acceptance into the KP. Zinkevich even appointed a new rector to replace Fr. Roman’s father, Fr. Vladimir, who has served in the church for 30 years.
However, the priests and community of the Church of St. Nicholas have confirmed their intention to remain faithful to the canonical Church several times, in particular on February 10, when a legal parish meeting was held and the faithful expressed their loyalty to the canonical Church and its primate His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. The meeting’s results were recorded in the parish protocols.
Fr. Vladimir also had to defend his parish from schismatics in the 1990s. KP representatives even kidnapped his then-3-year old son—Fr. Roman—for several hours to try to convince him to join their schism.
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