Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg visited the families on March 23. He presented welcoming gifts of beer, lemonade, and a Marian icon, the Diocese of Regensburg said.
Father Ruslan Denysiuk, a Ukrainian Orthodox priest, decided to leave Ukraine following the full-scale Russian invasion because he and his wife, Hanna, are expecting their fourth child in April.
He left Horishni Plavni by car with Hanna, their three children Bogdan (17), Maria (12), and Ilia (11), and their 74-year-old grandmother. They drove west to neighboring Moldova, then through Romania, Hungary, and Austria, on a more than 1,550-mile trek to Germany.
Days after the family found refuge at Msgr. Ratzinger’s former home, they were joined by Galina Lysenko and her 13-year-old daughter Aleksandra, who were members of Father Denysiuk’s parish. Lysenko’s husband remained in Ukraine to help defend Horishni Plavni.
Local residents have donated pots, crockery, clothes, furniture, and toys to the two families.
Msgr. Ratzinger’s former residence is owned by the Collegiates’ Monastery of St. John. The families moved in with the help of the local Caritas organization. More homes have also been sourced and equipped, with the support of the local neighborhood and the Kolping Catholic social organization.