Kiev and Pochaev, January 13, 2020
His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev, the beloved primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful, met with more than 100 children from the conflict zone in Donbass, who are surrounded by war, who visited Kiev and Pochaev from January 6 to 9 to celebrate the feast of the Nativity of Christ.
The Metropolitan, accompanied by several hierarchs of the Ukrainian Church, first met with children from Donbass on January 8, the feast of the Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos, at the Holy Protection Goloseevsky Monastery in Kiev, reports the Information-Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“When the Savior came to Earth, the first who worshiped Him were the youths who were tending their flocks—shepherds. They came first and worshiped the Divine Infant Christ, Who was lying in a manger,” His Beatitude told the children.
“And today, in these days, we rejoice to see our dear children and brothers from Donbass here, in Kiev, in our monastery, who have come here so we could be together, to rejoice, to see one another, and so we would remember that we are creations of God, and that God wants us to all live together in joy, in peace, and in harmony,” he added, blessing the children.
The day before, on the feast of the Nativity itself, Met. Onuphry blessed the opening of the traditional children’s holiday show at the Ukrainian National Opera, which was also attended by children from Donbass.
“These are children who grew up with the sound of war. The fact that we were able to snatch them up at least for such a short time—it’s great! It’s a little Nativity miracle,” said Sergei Sivokho, one of the organizers of the trip.
45 schoolchildren also visited the Pochaev Lavra to celebrate the great feast of Nativity, with the blessing of Met. Onuphry. The monastery housed and fed them, and the children had the opportunity to venerate the monastery’s sacred relics and icons and to meet with the brothers of the monastery.
Victoria, a resident of Donbass, said that the war completely changed her life and undermined her health. Her father was forced to leave for work to support his family. Therefore, to spend the Christmas holidays in peace and quiet was a great joy. “I started to stutter very badly. Many have left, so there are few people left. A lot of people died. We were in the church yesterday, it was very beautiful; in the cave, it was very cool. And today I liked it; we walked, traveled around Kiev,” she said.