Rector of UOC community in Berlin speaks about life of Ukrainian refugees

07 October 2022 14:51
Rector of UOC community in Berlin speaks about life of Ukrainian refugees

Archpriest Dimitri Dziadevych, rector of the UOC parish in Berlin, spoke about the peculiarities of life of Orthodox Ukrainian refugees in Germany during the war.

Archpriest Dimitri Dziadevych, rector of the All Saints parish (UOC) in Berlin, spoke about the life of Orthodox Ukrainians, who were forced to leave the country and now live in Germany. The interview with the priest was published by the UOC Informational and Educational Department.

Father Dimitri said that he and his parishioners searched for a place to worship, and as a result, the UOC community is welcomed weekly by a Catholic church in northern Berlin.

"First, we had a prayer service for peace in Ukraine here, and at the next meeting, we had our first Divine Liturgy. The chairman of the Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Meletiy of Chernivtsi and Bukovyna, blessed us with a Eucharistic set, an antimins, and for me a vestment, because I came quite light, with only a cassock and a cross," says the priest.

According to the community rector, the geography of the parish is very wide – among the parishioners, there are refugees from all of Ukraine: Kyiv, Luhansk, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odesa regions.

"Many told us how they had already said goodbye to their lives under shelling, but by God's will they managed to leave – both Bucha and Kherson and Luhansk regions. Some refugees from Donbas left their parents' homes back in 2014. They call themselves 'refugees 2.0', i.e. double refugees. There are many such stories, they are alike, but all are filled with pain, crying and sadness," Father Dimitriy notes.

About 100 people now attend the Sunday services, and the priest has administered three sacraments of baptism since the community was founded.

Despite the safety and comfort of European life, both he and the community feel keenly that they are in a foreign land, Archpriest Dimitri Dziadevych says.

"No one but ourselves can understand each other's pain so well. We all have relatives left in Ukraine, those who are defending our homeland; there are those who died in this war. So, our church and our community are like a breath of fresh air in a foreign land. In the parish, we collect things and give them to one another first – to those who are in need – refugees, and families with many children. Everyone has relatives who need help – we try to help them individually. We collected money and gave things to a volunteer organization in Berlin, that deals with Ukrainian refugees. <...> We have a parishioner, her friend's child died. She has been collecting all the names of children who have died in Ukraine since then. We pray for them during liturgies and memorial services... Unfortunately, the folder is continually being replenished," says the rector of the UOC community in Berlin bitterly.

Archpriest Dimitri is pleased to note that the creation of the UOC community has been supported by other Local Churches.

"The first to support us was Bishop Hanna G. Alwan of Antioch. He invited us to him and expressed his joy about the establishment of a Ukrainian parish. We were also supported by the priest of the Romanian Church in Berlin, Archpriest Clement Lodroman. We also received support from the rector of the Macedonian church here. <...> I want to say that although we started serving not so long ago,  we have already become one family, in which you can feel the spirit of Christ, the spirit of love," said Father Dimitri.

As reported, the UOC community in Berlin was officially registered in August 2022.

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