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Carmelite Mission in Ukraine

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Fr. Roman Dabrowski O.Carm.

Sasiadowice is an old village located half way between Chyrowa and Sambor in the Ukraine. The first historical references to this village occur in the year 1370. The wooden church of the Roman Catholic community in the village was consecrated in 1481. In the same year, the parish was established and the first parish priest was named Paul. When this church became ruins, a new church was built by the landowners of Sasiadowice, the Herburts from Felsztyn, and this church was consecrated on November 27th 1600. This church was burned by Tatars in 1624 but was rebuilt that same year and it served as a parish church until 1730 when it was sold to the Orthodox community and transported to Felsztyn. It is still there today and it serves the needs of the local Orthodox community.

In 1585, a farmer in the area found a relief carving of St. Anne Samotrzecia when he was ploughing. He brought what he found to the Herburts who owned the land, and they carried it to the parish church. In a way that has not been explained, the carving returned three times to the place where it was found and this was thought to be a sign that the carving should remain in that place rather than in the church. Several revelations concerning the carving later confirmed that it should remain in the place where it was found by the farmer.

The Herburts decided to build a wooden chapel of St. Anne in 1589 and, almost immediately, it became famous for miracles and graces and this church was consecrated on November 15th 1591. The Herburts also built a convent around the church and they wanted to bring some friars who would live there and look after the church of St. Anne. They asked the Carthusians but they refused. When Henricus Silvius, the general of the Carmelites, was in Cracow they asked him if the Carmelites could come to Sasiadowice. The general agreed, and in 1603 the Carmelites moved to Sasiadowice. They began to live in the convent, which had its own refectory and 12 cells. The new Carmelite foundation was officially approved and erected in Brzozow on July 23rd 1603 by Maciej Pstronski, the bishop of Przemysl, Henricus Silvius, the general of the Carmelite Order, and Stanislaw Gniewkowski, the Polish provincial. The first prior of the convent was Fr. Bartholomew Przeworski. In the same year, with the approved by Pope Clement VIII, the Carmelites received the parish of Sasiadowice, with its church of St. Nicolaus, and the parish of Felsztyn, with its church.

The Carmelites later built a new convent in Sasiadowice in which they lived until July 1946, when they were forced to leave this place by the communist regime of the Soviet Union, and they returned Poland. There was a period in which 17 brothers lived in the convent. Some Polish provincial chapters were held in the convent of Sasiadowice and after the division of the Polish province, some provincial chapters of the Russian province of St. Joseph were held there.

In 1989, the Roman Catholic community regained the church from the state authorities and were given permission for religious activities. They started to rebuild the church which was almost ruined. Because of the lack of materials, they used the brick of the convent building and the remaining part of the convent was adapted to make accommodation for the diocesan priests. This part of the building now functions presently as our convent. In 2010, fire destroyed the roof and damaged the church and monastery. At the request of Archbishop of Lviv, Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, the Carmelites returned to Sasiadowice in August 2011.

The roof and the sacristy were rebuilt and the church and the sacristy were provided with new liturgical vestments and many other fittings that were lost during the communit period and as a result of the fire of 2010. At present, further renovation work on the refectory, the cells and the bathroom are underway and the windows are being replaced. In the church, the plaster, the polychromes, the vaults, and the altars have yet to be renovated.

Currently three brothers live in the convent in Sasiadowice: Fr. Roman Dabrowski who is the superior of the house, Fr. Janusz Janowiak and Br. Grzegorz Gadomski. Fr. Janusz teaches in Lviv in the diocesan seminary. Br. Grzegorz is the bursar of the house. We are mainly involved in pastoral work. Our parish community consists of around 300 people. Most are Polish. The living conditions are not easy, as the local people lead a simple and rather poor life. The country remains in crisis because of the conflict with Russia. Our Carmelite community has to deal with various deficiencies like the shortage of water, light and internet. We have recently begun to install central heating. Despite the difficulties, we cannot complain. We want to send our cordial greetings to our brothers and sisters in Carmel and would like to ask you to pray for us and for our mission.

As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven. 

All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister." 

 



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