Salesian missions shipped food and medical supplies to Zhytomyr in war-torn Ukraine. / Photo courtesy of Salesian Missions USA

CNA Newsroom, Nov 16, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Amid concern over new missile strikes and ongoing prayer by Pope Francis for Ukraine, hundreds of youth and families in the war-torn country recently received nutritional support from the U.S. 

Food for 360 people was first shipped to Salesians in Poland and then transported to Zhytomyr, a city in the north of the western half of Ukraine.

The food aid is the result of a partnership between Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, and Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization committed to “feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit.” 

The Teterivka Orphanage and Boarding House, the Vsesvit Salesian School, and Korostyshiv Catholic Church received the goods. Over two weeks, Salesians distributed approximately 48 boxes of rice to the people connected to these organizations.

Salesians have been working with the Korostyshiv Catholic Church since 1994 and have worked at Vsesvit Salesian school for the last five years. While Salesians are not working directly with the Teterivka Orphanage and Boarding House, the children there have disabilities and need specialized care. Their only source of funding is from the government, which has decreased since the outbreak of the war. 

One Salesian missionary said: “With the support of Feed My Starving Children, we have been able to step in and distribute food packages to the children who have been greatly impacted and humbled with the support.”

Along with the food shipment, Salesian Missions also sent medical supplies provided by Matter, an organization that offers corporate surplus to places and people who need these lifesaving resources the most. The medical supplies were provided to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the Eastern Rite in Ukraine and then dispersed to the Salesian community in Zhytomyr, among other sites. The supplies are being used in local hospitals and for people in need.

Soon after the war started, Salesian Missions launched a Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund that is helping to provide shelter, nutrition, and supplies to refugees in need. 

Pope Francis on Wednesday raised concern about the potential for escalation in the war in Ukraine. NATO held emergency talks on Wednesday morning after Poland was struck by a missile, killing two people, according to the Associated Press.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the missile that hit Poland late on Tuesday was “likely” caused by the activity of Ukraine’s air defense systems, BBC News reported.

“Let us pray that the Lord will convert the hearts of those who still insist on war, and make the desire for peace prevail for martyred Ukraine, to avoid any escalation and open the way to a cease-fire and dialogue,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis also prayed that the Lord would grant the Ukrainians “consolation, strength in trials and hope for peace.” He said: “We can pray for Ukraine, saying, ‘Hurry up Lord.’”