Since the start of the war, more than 86,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Britain, many to join family members already here, some coming for the first time under a government sponsorship scheme.
Many have inevitably gravitated toward the Church, and in response the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family has opened a Welcome Centre, to give advice on issues ranging from housing to children’s education.
Several clergy have also joined the cathedral, but many do not speak fluent English. The Jesuit Fund for Social Justice has been able to help by providing funding for language lessons, and a stipend for one member of clergy.
Deacon Ihor Dyahyk, who was visiting London when war broke out, is now learning English, which will enable him to take a more effective role in the life of the cathedral. He particularly works with younger members of the congregation, organising trips and other activities.
‘I want to be a full member of British society so I must be fluent in English’.
‘The bishop has also given me responsibility to work with the Chancellery, where most of the documents are in English’.
Ihor, along with priests who have also arrived from Ukraine, is providing practical and spiritual support to members of the Church, which is seeing a huge demand for its services. Last year 15 separate Easter services had to be scheduled to satisfy demand, and the growth in worshippers in central London has led the Church to explore a mission parish in Brentwood. Overall, the Church maintains 26 parishes and missions throughout Britain.
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