It was coincidence that this Roman Catholic priest, Polish by nationality; Russian in language, drove up just as I was walking by the house where he was coming to say Mass to an extended family of Armenians. The RC priest I met two days before had given him the heads-up that an American pilgrim was walking through the area. Good fortune for me, and the tasty brunch of Armenian food that was served afterwards was not the least of it - a small respite from the ubiquitous borscht.
But it's the priest I want to bring attention to... Father Viacheslav. He's an energetic visionary who's not only got grand dreams for his parish, but has done quite a bit already toward the construction of a RC church and ecumenical family center in the town of Yuzhny, not far from Odessa. Yuzhny is one of the numerous 'model cities' designed and built in the 1980s as perfectly balanced communities, though conspicuously lacking churches of any denomination. Father Viacheslav has taken good care of me for many days now, arranging with other priests and nuns in the extended area for places to sleep. He even arranged for a TV station to cover my arrival into Yuzhny - Winter Pilgrim in our Town, which draws positive press for the benefits of pilgrim life. Beyond that, he's been helpful in discussions with the Romanian and Moldovan consulates about entry options - I'm not sure we've got all of the kinks worked out, but that's likely the subject of a future blog.
Take a moment to visit his grassroots website and direct its attention to appropriate charitable organizations you might know. This guy's the real deal and is tireless in his efforts to help the people of Ukraine.