Riga archbishop visits Ukrainian child refugees

Carl Bunderson   By Carl Bunderson for CNA

 

Archbishop Zbigņev Stankevičs of Riga visits Ukrainian refugees at the Registration Center for Ukrainians in Riga, Latvia, March 25, 2022. / Archdiocese of Riga

Riga, Latvia, Mar 25, 2022 / 15:41 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Zbigņev Stankevičs visited with Ukrainian refugee children in Latvia on Friday, welcoming them to the country as an exhibit of their artwork is being prepared.

The Archbishop of Riga’s March 25 visit to the city’s Registration Center for Ukrainians marked the feast of the Annunciation and the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart.

Caritas Latvija and the Church in the country are organizing the exhibit of drawings made by Ukrainian refugee children, which will open in May.

The art exhibition “is intended to help children to overcome mental strains they endured whilst escaping Russian aggression in Ukraine and to help them feel more at home in a new country,” a representative of the Archdiocese of Riga told CNA.

Also attending the event was Leonid Grebennyk, First Secretary at the Embassy of Ukraine in Riga. The visit was organized by Gabriella Cabiere, an art historian who is curating the exhibition.

During the visit Archbishop Stankevičs “blessed children and their parents and talked to the volunteers. He also looked at children’s drawings, appreciating their progress in the process of art,” the Riga archdiocese said.

Welcoming the children to Latvia, the archbishop “compare[d] the Ukrainian children with Jesus,” citing the Lord’s words, “I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in.”

“They came to Latvia and gave us the opportunity to feed them and to open our doors to them,” the Riga archdiocese expressed.

Archbishop Stankevičs greets the children. Archdiocese of Riga
Archbishop Stankevičs greets the children. Archdiocese of Riga

While explaining the concurrent consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Archbishop Stankevičs had an exchange with one of the children, who said, “the Good will always win, the evil will not prevail.” The archbishop replied to her, saying, “it is absolutely correct, even if it takes time; the Good will always prevail.”

The archbishop also blessed the children, and recited prayers along with Father Roman Sapuzhak of the Greek-Catholic parish in Riga.

The children’s parents later spoke with Archbishop Stankevičs and Father Roman about their experiences, and the archbishop invited them to visit the city’s Catholic parishes.

Leonid Grebennyk, Father Roman Sapuzhak, Archbishop Stankevičs, and Gabriella Cabiere speak with a Ukrainian refugee during the visit. Archdiocese of Riga
Leonid Grebennyk, Father Roman Sapuzhak, Archbishop Stankevičs, and Gabriella Cabiere speak with a Ukrainian refugee during the visit. Archdiocese of Riga

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