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Helping carry the cross of Christ

March 27, 2024 

March 27
Kyiv, Ukraine

We spent today visiting Depaul Kyiv Multi-Purpose Support Center (MPSC), a Vincentian ministry that provides housing, services, and emergency shelter to adults and children experiencing homelessness. The International Catholic Migration Committee (ICMC), Monsignor Vitillo’s and Christian’s organization, has done incredible work throughout Ukraine to support access to mental health and trauma care — which is as much a part of health care as hospitals and clinics are. We ended the day with a visit to the Vincentian Community House in Kyiv, where we visited the chapel for prayer before lunch.

As I looked around the chapel, I noticed the Stations of the Cross and my attention specifically caught the fifth one: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross. One thing has always bothered me about this one – Simon had to be forced to help Jesus. By this point, Jesus has had that heavy cross on his back for a long stretch, he has fallen once, and just encountered his heartbroken mother. It’s suffering upon suffering, and it’s only beginning.

I reflected on what I had just seen at Depaul MPSC. This organization was busy taking care of people in need before the invasion. Now, they not only have more clients, but they are also welcoming and caring for internally displaced people from the eastern part of the country. We met families who had to flee their homes to survive; a young, pregnant wife, who escaped from danger with her husband, only to have him called back to the front lines. She is living in the shelter and their baby will be born soon. She wore a sweatshirt that just barely stretched across her abdomen. It read “If you aren’t angry, you aren’t paying attention.”


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It would be easy for the overworked staff at Depaul MPSC to say no to helping – even I could see there would have been a long list of reasons to refuse all the people who need assistance. However, unlike Simon, they voluntarily expanded services over the last two years and opened new housing and shelter that is as pleasant, welcoming and loving as you could possibly wish for. When they meet today’s Jesus of Nazareth, fallen and stumbling, they rush to pick up a part of the cross, without having to be asked.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if all people saw the suffering of others — next door or thousands of miles away – and respond with the same compassion and love?

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Helping carry the cross of Christ