The Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has said that Irish people, in providing refuge to Ukrainians fleeing war in their native land, are echoing the great spirit of encounter, care and compassion handed down by St Patrick.
In his St Patrick’s Day homily, Bishop Leahy said that for the past two St Patrick’s Days, we put vulnerable people first and this one is no different as we welcome strangers under siege into our homes.
With 6,000 Ukrainian refugees already in Ireland, Bishop Leahy said it is impressive to see the offers of accommodation on the part of many. But this is our way as a people and on St. Patrick’s Day, in particular, the people of Ukraine are very much in our hearts.
“Mix blue and yellow and the colour is green and this is very much how it is today as we bring people of Ukraine into our homes and we wait to welcome more of them. And the people of Ukraine who are under siege and fear in their native land, we bring them into our hearts,” he said.
“It is inspiring to note how many people all over Ireland have responded so generously to supporting humanitarian efforts in this crisis. Many parish communities have already established links with charitable projects to support refugees and those remaining in Ukraine.”
Bishop Leahy singled out the Redemptorist community in Limerick, which has direct links with their confreres in Ukraine and has already been overwhelmed by the response of people in Limerick and beyond to its appeal. He also cited other charitable initiatives such as Aid to the Church in Need, the Jesuit Refugee Service and Trócaire.
There is, he said, a call to help each other in this spontaneous wave of hospitality.
“The welcome offered is an outreach to people in need that the Irish feel instinctively. We do that piece well. After all, encounter and mercy, care and compassion were among the great characteristics of St. Patrick. To this day, we honour those characteristics.”
He continued: “Yes, prayer is important. And today we remember in prayer the people of Ukraine, also the Ukrainians in Ireland and those Russians in Ireland who are not responsible for the war. We must be careful not to hold them accountable for the massacres of a war they did not start.”