Radio Maria (RM) has been present in Ukraine for the last 11 years, I have been working here for 10 years so far. Ukraine has been my home for the last 30 years; before joining the radio, I had been working for 20 years as a Catholic catechist among Ukrainian children. At present I am a journalist a promoter of Radio Maria .
The studio of RM is located in Kiev and broadcasts programmes around the clock – from 7AM to 9PM live, at night we air the programmes recorded earlier. Radio Maria is of great help in spiritual formation of the nation, at times it is regarded as a university. After the outbreak of the war, on February 24th, RM employees (8 people) left the office in order to find safer places. At the time I was taking part in the meeting of the Ukrainian Province of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit in Verbovec, approximately 400km from Kiev.
My deep desire was to return to Kiev to join the director of RM, who was staying alone in our office, to join him in order to start broadcasting in this time of crisis. And so I did, successfully. One more person joined the two of us – a Pallotine priest and so here are three of us working together.
At the beginning our situation was dangerous and difficult – we slept on the studio floor for the whole month, we could only use one sink to wash ourselves, we ate whatever we were able to come by. What we broadcast was Holy Masses four times a day, all four parts of Rosary – we started the 54-day Novena to the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii, or programmes for both adults and children. There are also phone-in programmes in which people share their experiences and stories of this difficult war situation. We also transmit the Ukraine President’s addresses to the nation. RM is an authority on spiritual and social matters for Ukrainian people, who often do not watch TV programmes, choosing our radio instead.
Here, in Ukraine there are two SSpS communities in Kiev – one in the city centre and another one 20 km from Kiev, between Kiev and Boryspil. For the time being I am living alone, staying in the RM office to avoid staying outside after the curfew and to continue transmitting the programmes.
I start my working day at 7am and work till 9pm. Since there are three of us – the director Fr. Oleksij Samsonov, Fr. Waldemar Pawelec SAC and me – we share the daily workload. Since the war started three of the transmission towers have been hit by rockets, two of them have already been repaired but the one in Kharkiv is completely destroyed. I am personally convinced that my work for RM is a wonderful place to spread gospel. People express their gratitude for me staying in Ukraine during the war.
The Ukrainians know me well because I used to visit parishes every weekend to promote Radio Maria. I recon I understand the Ukrainian people and grew very fond of them over the years, and it would be impossible for me to leave them seeking a safe place for myself only.
At present the atmosphere in Kiev is comparatively peaceful and life is getting back to normal, yet a few times – both day and night – the sirens invite us to the shelters. Such a life is not an easy one. We are aware the war is going on, and there is the prevailing uncertainty – from which side are they going to attack Kiev next.
That is why we ask for your prayers, even in case I am no longer alive while you are reading this letter. I am ready for anything. This is why I am here now.
Sr. Lucyna Grzasko, SSpS is from Poland and belongs to the Province of Ukraine. This text was sent on April 28, 2022.