Catholics in Ireland hope to host Ukrainian refugees

Refugees wait for trains at Lviv railway station in western Ukraine. Refugees wait for trains at Lviv railway station in western Ukraine. | Ruslan Lytvyn/Shutterstock.

Catholic churches in Ireland are looking into the possibility of hosting Ukrainian refugees in parish halls and schools.

More than 6,600 refugees from the war in Ukraine have already arrived in Ireland, a country with a population of around five million people. A third of the new arrivals are being temporarily accommodated in hotels, according to the Irish Times.

Larysa Gerasko, the Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland, has predicted that as many as 80,000 Ukrainians fleeing the war might end up coming to Ireland, after the country waived its visa requirement and offered a special refugee status for three years.

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh told reporters this week that the Church is in the early stages of assessing potential Church properties that could be repurposed to accommodate refugee families.

“If there is to be a large wave of people arriving here, we want to be able to open our doors and welcome them as much as possible,” Martin told the Irish Examiner on March 16.

“In all our parishes, we have invited our parish, pastoral councils, and finance councils and the priests to consider if there are properties that we could make available for Ukrainian families,” he said.

Archbishop Eamon Martin. . Northern Ireland Executive CC BY ND 2.0.
Archbishop Eamon Martin. . Northern Ireland Executive CC BY ND 2.0.

The Primate of All Ireland said he believed that “our parishes would like to be at the forefront of this.”

“I think this really will be an effort of the whole community here, both north and south, to open our hearts and open our doors in welcome for these refugees who have been through such horrors that we’re seeing on our screens,” he added.

In his homily for St. Patrick’s Day, Martin said that although Ireland is many miles away from the war, “the sacrifice of the Ukrainian people is coming home to us in a shocking manner.”

“We simply couldn’t celebrate the feast of our patron St. Patrick this year without reaching out in thought and in prayer to the people of Ukraine — those who share this island with us, and their families and friends who are trapped in the horror of destruction and bloodshed at home,” the archbishop said.

“Christians and all people of goodwill here in Ireland are instinctively reaching out in compassion and prayerful solidarity to them. We join our small Lenten sacrifices with their immense suffering,” he added.

The Irish bishops have announced that a special collection for Ukraine will be taken at all Masses on the weekend of March 26-27.

They also encouraged Catholics to donate to Aid to the Church in Need, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and Trócaire, which is working through its partners Caritas Ukraine and Caritas Poland.

“As tens of thousands of refugees arrive in Ireland in the near future, the Gospel is calling on us to open up to them our hearts and our homes,” Martin said in his homily.

“We pray that this land of welcomes will offer a compassionate welcome here to our brothers and sisters in their need, and that many in our parish communities will pledge a space in their homes or other suitable accommodation.”

“Let us appeal through our prayers this St. Patrick’s Day for an end to this pointless massacre pulverizing of the property, bodies, and spirit of the Ukrainian people,” he said.

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