CONU takes on a new meaning!

As the organization has grown and the needs of our mission have increased, we want all to know that our support now goes much beyond our friends in Northern Ukraine. Especially since the outbreak of war, our mission leaders find themselves assisting refugees and brethren throughout Ukraine. Therefore we have dropped the “Northern” and changed the name to Catholic Outreach to NEIGHBORS in Ukraine. We are proud of our ability to spread our support to our friends and neighbors!

Ukrainian Leaders Visiting Colorado Springs!

We have a huge, exciting announcement! We’ve invited three of our spiritual leaders on the frontlines in Ukraine for a visit in late August – early September. Invitations are still pending approval but we’d like to introduce you to one of our guests and one of the events. This guest is Father Oleskandr Zelinski. He is the Director General for ETWN-Ukraine. CONU is sponsoring a documentary film about the impacts of the war that Father Oleskandr is overseeing. Here’s some interviews with this amazing disciple:
Also, we excited to announce that Bishop Golka from the Diocese of Colorado Springs will be presiding at a mass to be held to coincide with Independence Day for Ukraine. The mass will be held at Holy Apostles Catholic Church in Colorado Springs on Sunday, 27 Aug, 9AM.

Winter 2023 Newsletter

Please see our latest newsletter featuring articles on refugee support in Lutsk and Myrgorod and the House of Hope (the Single Mothers Home).  Click here for the full newsletter.  Winter 2023 Newsletter

Love in the House of Hope

Refugees waiting for assistance outside the Lutsk church

From Father Pavlo Khomiak in Lutsk:
this year the Kitchen for the Needy has generated an extremely high demand among the public. Due to the difficult financial situation and the large number of new immigrants, people massively stood in huge queues to get their share of food. It is incredibly difficult to realize how many people in need are in difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, we still live in conditions with constant power outages, people are losing their jobs en masse, and people who have managed to escape from the war zone have no financial means to live on. On some days, the number of needy people who were waiting for their portion of hot lunches reached the number of 800 people. Even massive air raids and planes circling overhead did not scare people who wanted one thing above all else – to eat. This is an extremely large number, and our modest kitchen space and equipment could not provide hot meals to such a large number of needy people. Therefore, for those who did not have enough hot lunches, we additionally issued food kits so that people could at least have something to eat. After three active months of work preparing meals for needy migrants, lonely elderly people, people who found themselves in difficult living conditions, our resources were exhausted, because the number of people was much larger than we expected.”
Many of the pictures below show the refugees braving the cold for the opportunity to receive a meal. Most of distribution occurs at the church in Lutsk but some needs are met by mobile distribution. Please help if you can. Here’s a link to our donation page:

Braving the winter for a chance at a hot meal

Outside the Lutsk church

Staff preparing meals for the masses at the Kitchen for the Needy

Winter has been bitter for our brothers and sisters in Lutsk

Mobile distribution

Refugees and residents crowd new church in Mirgorod

The newly remodeled church in Mirgorod has become a gathering spot for Ukrainians in need of spiritual and subsistence support.  Father Stanislav Tanatarov leads daily masses and leads the distribution of food and supplies after mass.  These winter months are the hardest times for this community.  Hot meals are scarce; shelter is limited; heat and power are often unavailable.  CONU is doing its best to provide funding but is in dire need of more donations.  Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and help if you can.  May God bless us all!

Packed attendance at mass

Waiting for distribution of food and supplies

Father Stan leads congregation at mass

Our 2022 Newsletter

Here is the CONU 2022 Newsletter.  Please see the featured stories about our new Executive Director, Father Tom Jamka, and the trip to Ukraine by our Vice President, Ken Rackers.

Update from Mirgorod and Father Stanislav

Below are photos from Father Stanislav Tanatarov in Mirgorod, Ukraine. The name of the new church, funded by an anonymous donor to CONU, is Church of Jesus of Divine Mercy. Father Stan says the church is the most beautiful building in the city. It’s in a prominent location on the main highway through Mirgorod. The church also continues to serve the war victims and refugees. One day this fall, over 400 war victims refugees received aid. When Ken Rackers, CONU’s board VP, visited in October 2022, Father Stan introduced him to about 120 refugees attending mass and receiving aid. Ken spoke 2-3 minutes in Russian during mass. After mass, 4 or 5 older ladies (babushkas, grandmothers) came up and kissed him on cheeks, hugged him with tears in their eyes, thanking CONU and Americans. Three dedushkas (grandfathers) also thanked him and shook his hand. Father Stan later took him to a refugee center (very dilapidated housing likely frigid in winter). Later he took him to lunch at the apartment of a refugee couple. They put on a typical generous feast. They also showed pictures of the apartment building they left behind in the war area of Donbas. It had been shelled by artillery the morning they fled. It was later completely and horribly ransacked by Russian soldiers.

The basement chapel of the Mirgorod church was filled with food and supply donations stacked taller than Ken, some from CONU, likely the rest is from Poland and international donors including the USA. Ken asked Father Stan where it all came from. He coyly responded from CONU, only CONU. He responded it was like that “fishes and loaves” from Jesus in the Bible. While CONU is not a big or rich organization, it contributes to the welfare of 1000s in cities and regions across Ukraine. Father Stan is a great leader of his parish and flock, and a honest and impeccable steward of CONU’s contributions… as are all the other with whom we work in projects across Ukraine. This is the second church Father Stan built with support from CONU. The other is in the city of Konotop.

Outside of the remodeled church in MIrgorod

Supply distribution

Supply distribution

Refugees line up for distribution

Extract from a gratitude letter from Father Chomiak in Lutsk

… let me express to you the words of our sincere and deep gratitude for your kind and open heart and support for the needy people in Ukraine… Every day we live under the terrifying sounds of sirens, see deadly rockets fly by and hear the sounds of explosions. However, amidst this gloom of darkness, we also see and feel the strong and strong support we receive from sincere people with big hearts! Your personal support and the support of your entire organization CONU is an invaluable help in our daily lives, because it is because of you that people are able to get the help they need… we live in conditions without electricity, water and heating. This difficult and harsh Ukrainian winter has become a new test that we have to pass. However thanks to your help, needy people who find themselves in extremely difficult circumstances feel that they are not alone with their problems. … thanks to the kindness of your hearts, we are able to implement the campaign “Kitchen for the poor and needy” and warm needy people with hot lunches. … May God’s grace and mercy always be in your homes and hearts. We pray that the Lord will bless you with His blessings and express our sincere gratitude for the fact that he has rewarded you with kind hearts! We would like to wish you a peaceful and happy Christmas. So that the light and joy of the Lord’s birth always accompany you, and the Christmas star indicates only the right path of life’s path!

Distribution of goods in Lutsk

Gratitude Letter from Lutsk and Fr. Chomiak

A Charitable Visit to Ukraine by Ken Rackers (CONU VP)

In October 2022, our VP, Ken Rackers, visited many CONU contacts in Ukraine. Here’s the beginning of the article, there’s also a link below for the whole article.

Ken Rackers, Vice President of the Catholic Outreach to Northern Ukraine, shares smiles with children residing at the House of Hope., a single mothers home in Ukraine.

Why Visit during a War?
Any news snippet from Ukraine would keep most travelers far from eastern Europe, but not Ken Rackers! His drive is motivated by his designation as an honorary Ukrainian “Cossack” which was bestowed by Ukrainian Orthodox Bishop Mefodi of Sumi on a previous trip. The timing of this trip was to align with the anniversary of the National and Orthodox “National Day of the Defenders,” October 12, 2020’. When asked why travel during a tumultuous time during a war, Ken replied: “It’s been a great honor to be designated a Ukrainian Cossack, along with 20 members of the Ukrainian military. I feel the honor and duty to help the people of Ukraine in the defense of their nation and struggle to maintain independence.” Furthermore, Ken reaffirmed “It is my duty and honor as a Ukrainian Cossack, and a former U.S. Army Soviet/Russian/East European Foreign Area Officer.”” It is easy to see how proud of his special designation as Ukrainian Cossack and this creates a special connection with the Ukrainian people. It’s also easy to see how loved he is by all those he connects with in Ukraine.
As vice president of the Catholic Outreach to Northern Ukraine (CONU, see sidebar), Ken has been instrumental and devoutly engaged in all the missions of CONU. His inspiration started with a talk from Father Paul Wicker, a founder of CONU, about his mission in February 2018 at Our Lady of the Pines. Between trips, Ken regularly corresponds with all his Ukrainian contacts to ensure their safety and see how best to provide for their needs.
On a Mission!
Ken landed in Krakov Poland on October 2 and crossed into Ukraine on October 3 to visit many people and places where CONU is refocusing its support to our brethren in need. His stops included Yaslovets, Kamenetz-Podilskii, Sharavetchka, Kyiv, Lubny, Sumi, and Lutsk. He returned to Krakov on October 11. Plans to visit Kharkiv were were interrupted by ongoing missile strikes.
To enjoy the rest of the article, please click here…
Article on Ukraine Visit

Mirgorod Church Distributing Donations to War Victims

Here are some pictures showing how Father Stanislav is using the chapel in Mirgorod to store and distribute supplies to the war victims. These are from several weeks ago. Please keep your your donations coming! Thank you.