Catholic journalist flees Ukraine capital: ‘The war brings me closer to God’

Katie Yoder   By Katie Yoder for CNA

 

People raise the Ukrainian flag at Pope Francis’ Angelus address at the Vatican, March 6, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Mar 8, 2022 / 12:10 pm (CNA).

A Catholic Ukrainian journalist documenting daily life in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of the country has miraculously escaped Kyiv, she said.

“God gave the sign [to leave], and gave the strength to realize it,” she said in a March 5 message. “This is amazing.”

St. Rita Radio, an EWTN affiliate located in Norway, is translating and sharing the journalist’s messages in the form of a video and podcast series titled “Diary from Kyiv.” The 3- to 6-minute episodes (available on YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts) feature a voice-over from a translator as images or short video clips from Ukraine appear.

After spending several days chronicling life in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, the unidentified journalist announced her decision to leave the city after speaking with an acquaintance.

“He said, ‘Please take your sick mother and brother and try to leave Kyiv. It would be better,’” she remembered.

Her friend’s advice prompted her to “ask Jesus what he meant.”

Speaking with another friend over the phone, she prayed to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Then, she opened up her Bible.

“[I] felt in my heart that this was the sign from God that I needed to make a decision,” she stressed. “In the Word, I found confirmation that I must go.”

She placed her trust in God to find a way to leave the city.

“Currently, departures from Kyiv are limited, and it is not so easy to find transport,” she explained.

But after making one phone call, she found a way out. A car was leaving Kyiv for their destination in one hour — and happened to have enough space for her and her family.

The journey was long, due to the traffic and checkpoints, she described. But she spent the time contemplating the “improbability of God’s action.”

“I also reflected on the lives of the Holy Family who were forced to leave everything and flee to Egypt,” she added.

She will stay in her new location, she said, for as long as God wants.

“I will expect from God the next sign of where to go and what to do,” she said.

Even though the war continues, she emphasized, it “brings me closer to God and shows his incredible action.”

The next day, March 6, she revealed she was at a monastery 200 kilometers (roughly 124 miles) from Kyiv.

“The nuns here help many people who are trying to escape from Kyiv and eastern Ukraine,” she said. “They use their rooms as temporary shelters so that people can rest, eat, sleep, and be able to travel further west of Ukraine.”

“Now, it will be our home,” she added.

She identified her favorite place at the monastery: the chapel.

“We can go to prayer at any time and there is a round-the-clock adoration of the Holy Sacrament,” she said.

While her family experienced a quiet evening, she mourned for those in the suburbs of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and other cities in northern Ukraine.

“The Russians fired on civilians and residential neighborhoods, attacking humanitarian corridors and evacuating people,” she said. “The railway used for transportation was blown up.”

She herself is not completely safe.

“Local nuns said they [the Russians] have tried to attack the city twice,” she admitted. “One time, a rocket fell on the field and, the second time, one hit the house but did not explode.”

She recognized Mary’s protection.

“In this city, there is a miraculous icon of the Mother of God of the Holy Scapular,” she explained. “Therefore people sincerely believe that they are under the protection of the Virgin.”

She felt safe too, she said, and ended her video in prayer.

“Jesus is stronger than evil in the world. He proved it. He is our hope,” she said. “Mother of God of the Holy Scapular, envelope us with your cloak.”

The journalist’s series began when Pål Johannes Nes, the 42-year-old founder and chief editor of St. Rita Radio, approached her with an idea.

“I asked her if she would be willing to tell her story,” he previously told CNA. “The story about how to live a life of faith during the time of war.”

Since then, the series has been a huge success.

“The response has been almost too much, for a small Internet radio in Norway,” he said. “Every episode is shared 10-20,000 times.”

Nes confirmed that the journalist is currently safe after leaving Kyiv with her sick mother and brother. Her story, he added, is receiving a response worldwide.

“I get emails and, today, also some videos from all over the world with people saying that they are praying for her and Ukraine,” he revealed to CNA. “From the U.S., from Mexico, South Africa, Norway, Poland and so on. I even got a video today made by a girl telling how she is praying for peace.”


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