The World

How does the Church in Poland help Ukrainians?

More than two million refugees have found help in Poland in three weeks. Church institutions, religious and private individuals are helping their neighbors fleeing the war unleashed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Paweł Rytel-Andrianik-April 1, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes
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Photo: ©Caritas Poland. Refugee tent in Kroscienko

More than two million refugees have found help in Poland in three weeks. On behalf of the Polish Bishops' Conference, Caritas Poland has raised record funds from the faithful totaling $20 million, sent more than 500 truckloads of humanitarian aid and is delivering 47,000 meals a day.

Half a million people have benefited from Caritas assistance. In addition, many other organizations are involved in the aid: dioceses, religious congregations, parishes, Catholic communities and movements, as well as many volunteers. Poles are welcoming refugees from Ukraine into their homes.


"Caritas Poland has raised 83 million zlotys ($20 million) in aid for Ukraine," the organization's director, Dr. Marcin Izycki, announced Monday.

"In Poland, Caritas organizes humanitarian transports to Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war, we have sent about half a thousand trucks and buses. We estimate the value of this aid at 35 million zlotys," he said. It includes food, hygiene products, bandages, but also electricity generators, blankets and sleeping bags," he added.

Speaking about helping refugees from Ukraine in Poland, he indicated the two main challenges: receiving thousands of people at the border and supporting those arriving inside Poland.

"There are 1,200 volunteers at 26 Caritas border assistance points and active in the Council of Religious. Almost 47,000 meals a day are served to refugees in the more than 130 Caritas assistance points. Almost half a million people have already benefited from this form of assistance," said the Caritas director.

Religious men and women

In 924 convents in Poland and 98 in Ukraine, nuns are providing spiritual, psychological, medical and material assistance.

It is estimated that, since the beginning of the war, each of the nearly 150 religious congregations operating in Poland and Ukraine has helped a number of people ranging from a few to as many as 18,000.

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Accommodation has been arranged in 469 convents in Poland and 74 in Ukraine. So far 2824 children, 2299 families and approximately 2860 adults have been accommodated. In 64 institutions there are 602 places for orphans, and in 420 institutions there are almost 3000 places for mothers with children.

At present, direct assistance is provided in 156 men's convents, where 738 families have found refuge, that is, 3630 people, of whom 1483 are children. 315 parish houses of religious and pastoral ministries have sheltered more than 300 families, or 1333 people, including 518 children. 4 centers for religious have taken in 61 disabled persons, including 37 children.

The Conference of Major Superiors of Religious in Poland, in cooperation with ORANGE POLSKA SA, is coordinating and distributing PREPAID SIM phone cards for Ukrainian refugees (more than 1500 cards have already been distributed).

Polish parishes

All of Poland's nearly 10,000 parishes are involved in helping refugees. The Church welcomes war refugees in rest homes, convents of male and female religious orders, Caritas centers, centers of movements and communities, in parishes and, through the parishes, in the homes of the faithful.

Ukrainian families have found shelter in the houses of many bishops. Hundreds of places have also been reserved for them in seminaries and other buildings belonging to the dioceses. More than 100 people, including 50 children, live in facilities such as the Pilgrim's House and the so-called "halls" of Jasna Gora.


On Sunday, February 27 and Ash Wednesday, March 2, more than 32 million zlotys were collected during special collections in Polish churches to help Ukraine. This is a record collection in the history of similar actions organized by Caritas Poland, Poland's largest charity organization. To this should be added the money sent by bank transfers, through the Caritas Polska website and the donation mechanism set up there, as well as through charitable text messages.

Collections of funds and materials are organized even by religious congregations of men and women, and many movements, associations, communities and parishes.

Aid shipments

Aid shipments to Ukraine, prepared by the Polish Bishops' Conference's Team for Aid to the Church in the East, began on February 25. So far, through Caritas alone, 147 trucks and 180 buses have been sent to Ukraine with aid - mainly food - with a total value of about PLN 25 million. Shipments are also organized, among others, by religious congregations, communities, movements and associations. At least 34 cars from men's convents have left for Ukraine with humanitarian aid, carrying almost 100 tons of donations.

Volunteering, continuous assistance to refugees

Many people also participate in various activities that directly help those in need.

Religious communities serve thousands of meals a day (about 5,000 meals in the men's congregations alone). Packages are also distributed. Religious institutions organize care and educational-recreational activities for Ukrainian children, as well as English language courses. Children are admitted to kindergartens and schools of religious congregations. In some places legal and psychological help is also provided, as well as translation of documents necessary for employment. Refugees use transportation provided by the religious.

Transfer of aid from around the world

The action of the Church in Poland in favor of Ukraine also involves mediation and the transfer of aid from communities in other countries. The Jesuits, the Knights of Columbus, the Pope's Aid to the Church in Need (AED), religious congregations, communities, movements and associations in Poland are active in this field.

Caritas Poland cooperates closely with Caritas Europa, Caritas Internationalis and, in view of the current humanitarian crisis, also with sister Church organizations in Italy, Germany and the United States. Caritas Poland has also initiated discussions with UNHCR - the UN Refugee Agency - on cash assistance to be provided in the dioceses.

Working in Ukraine

Members of the Polish clergy working in Ukraine have remained with their faithful. There are about 700 priests (including 170 religious priests and 3 bishops who are religious). In addition, 21 brothers and 332 sisters of Polish religious congregations work in Ukraine.

The authorPaweł Rytel-Andrianik

Director of the Office of International Communication, Secretariat of the Polish Bishops' Conference.

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