For six months, Ukraine has been heroically fighting for freedom, not only for its own country but for the whole world. Hundreds of charitable organizations and businesses, and millions of ordinary people have provided financial and prayerful support for Ukraine. The world’s academic community has expressed its solidarity with the Ukrainian people and continues to help students who were forced to leave the territory of Ukraine as a consequence of the war with Russia.
At the start of the war, Ukrainian Catholic University’s (UCU) partner of many years, the University of Notre Dame in the USA, initiated the spread of cooperation among universities, amounting to $2 million in the first year. Students of UCU’s bachelor’s and master’s programs received the opportunity to study at Notre Dame, and UCU doctoral students had the opportunity to apply to study in one of five global branches of Notre Dame: in Peking, Dublin, Jerusalem, London, and Rome.
Recently, Rev. Prof. Daniel Groody of the University of Notre Dame, associate professor of theology and global affairs, vice president and associate provost for undergraduate affairs, and faculty fellow of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, visited Ukraine. Together with Archbishop Borys Gudziak, Metropolitan of the Philadelphia Archeparchy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the USA, he visited Ukrainian Catholic University, the Center of Volunteering and Defense, and Wings of Hope charitable foundation and met with wounded soldiers who are being treated at the hospital. He also visited a modular city for internally displaced persons.
In this short interview with Groody, you can read why the war in Ukraine involves the whole world, why it is important to provide support to the Ukrainian people, and why education is important for restoring peace in the world.
What impressed you the most during your visit to Ukraine?
What impressed me the most about Ukraine was the spirit of determination in the Ukrainian people. Even though there is a tough mountain in front of you, the people show a tremendous amount of courage and generosity. I learned how the most adverse conditions can also bring out the best in us, and that came through to me in the ways businesses pivoted to humanitarian relief, students mobilized their peers, and the University partnered with everyone from the military to social services to strengthen the “field hospital” of ministry tended to by a wide range of inspiring people.
"...We too need to rediscover (and remember) the sacrifices that are inseparable from the freedoms many of us enjoy today. The threats to freedom in Ukraine are threats to freedom everywhere." — Rev. Prof. Daniel Groody
What can you say to the American people: is it important to support Ukraine? How long, in your opinion, will Ukraine need this support?
I say the people in Ukraine are our brothers and sisters, and just as they have sacrificed their lives for the sake of fundamental human freedoms, so we too need to rediscover (and remember) the sacrifices that are inseparable from the freedoms many of us enjoy today. The threats to freedom in Ukraine are threats to freedom everywhere.
It is hard to make such sacrifices, and supporting Ukraine now and in the future is difficult and will be costly. Ukraine is teaching the world how to fight for what matters and to fight against forces of tyranny, oppression, and, ultimately, death. This means sacrifice, not only in terms of initial support but over the long haul.
The University of Notre Dame gives UCU students great support during this war. In this time of war, why is it important to support education, in particular, at UCU?
Catholic education is about forming the whole person: the mind, the heart, and the spirit. It is not only about making people into good citizens and productive workers but it is about creating good people who bear good fruit in the world. Because the college years are so foundational and formative, they are critical in transforming people into something new. In this process, education is not only about pouring information into us but also about drawing out what is the best in us. And even as this war is dominated by bombs and bullets, we must remember the greater wars are those going on inside the human heart. Personally and collectively, we have to find the road that puts to death the forces of violence so a new community of love, justice, and solidarity can be reborn in our world. This is true of every generation, and in our own times, Ukraine reminds us that our response to this crisis will also shape who we become as a people.
This article was originally published by the Ukrainian Catholic University on August 22, 2022. Minor edits by Gráinne McEvoy, Nanovic Institute for European Studies.
Fr. Groody will discuss his eyewitness experience in Lviv during a flash panel on Wednesday, August 31 titled “Focus on Ukraine: Eyewitnesses to the War.”