Local appeal helps to comfort and support most in need

Local agencies working directly with Catholic Mission to care and support refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine say while emergency relief is still the main priority, there is now a growing and urgent need for social and pastoral care.

As the Australian agency of the worldwide network of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Catholic Mission is working with counterparts in Ukraine, and other European countries, and the situation is becoming more desperate by the day.

“People are still crossing the border, especially here in Bucharest,” Fr Eugen Blaj, the National Director of the PMS in Romania.

In a video message sent to Catholic Mission National Director Fr Brain Lucas, Fr Eugen says while the local refugee centres are at capacity, they are still providing urgent care where needed but it is a short-term option.

“You can image families with children, maybe you can stay one night in a room with 20 beds or more (but) that is not a normal life,” he says.

“They are desperately looking for a place to stay, where they can stay longer, at least for a few weeks.”

Fr Eugen has welcomed many refugee families into his own house.

“The church tries to help them very much, I try to help them very much, as much as I can,” he says. “Offering them comfort… here it’s a normal life in my house.”

Fr Eugen says may refugees don’t have official documents, and that makes it difficult to process passport and visa applications.

Fr Eugen says local agencies are now focusing their efforts as much on social and pastoral care as they are on emergency relief.

He says the generosity from Australia is making a direct impact on the lives of those who need it most.

“Thank you very much for the support,” he says. “I appreciate it very much that we can take care of more and more people. May God bless you.”