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Church \ Church in Europe

A piece of Ukraine in Rome: keeping one’s identity

Ukrainian College

Ukrainian College

10/07/2014 12:52

The church,  surrounded by palm trees, a catholic seminary and a dormitory. One language, one tradition, one Christian religion. This is what one of the most interesting Ukrainian communities in Rome looks like. It's the Ukrainian Institute of Pope St. Clement, previously known as the Ukrainian Catholic Universitу. It is known that today more than 400 thousand Ukrainians live in Italy, almost 5 thousand of them are settled in Rome. And the Ukrainian Institute has become a home for Ukrainian students, who have decided to continue their education in Rome. Also it`s a sort of a cultural and religious center which helps them to keep in touch with Ukraine and Ukrainians. 

Listen to the report by Oksana Piddubna and Kateryna Nedesnova... 

"We want to create an atmosphere, a Christian atmosphere”

Monsignor Ivan Datsko lived and worked at the Ukrainian Catholic University of Pope St.Clement long before Ukraine got her independence. After this he spent some time in Ukraine and from 2008 he holds the rank of director of the Ukrainian Institute of Pope St. Clement. He says that its main mission today is to create the conditions for Ukrainian students to grow and develop  following the laws of the Lord, says father Ivan.

“It’s not just a student hostel where students can do whatever they like, no, it’s postgraduate, I repeat, postgraduate students, which should have a recommendation ID from his bishop or from his or her Director of the Ukrainian Catholic University. Usually our students stay here about  2-3 years or even more. They become the Doctors, at least the Masters or  get a license in a certain discipline. We expect them all  to go back to Ukraine and to work according to the competences".

He also adds  that here they never force faith on their students, but always expect they will join in prayer.

"We expect them to attend a liturgy. And not only once a week, perhaps, more times a week, and I must say our students do that. We give them different conferences, we have days of renewal,  beautiful feast days, recreation. We try to combine business with pleasure. I mean hard work (then they have hard studies too), but also with prayers, spirituality and happiness, joy, because Christianity is a face of optimism, of joy, it’s not for sad people". 

Doctor in the social doctrine of the church and in social economics, Zenoviy Svereda, who also works at the Institute notices that students don’t feel isolated and have plenty of information about Ukraine.

“First of all, we use information from the Internet. Usually this is Ukrainian citizens and particularly young people. Secondly, in Rome we have the informational bureau of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, few internet newspapers of our church and different organizations and we read it. Sincerely, we don’t use radio. I even can’t remember when I last listened to it”.

"Letters from Ukraine" - How does the Western media see Ukraine 

As for the local and Western media, the professor says he is very dissatisfied with the quality and objectivity of reports on Ukrainian events.

“It’s a pity that Western media doesn’t give an objective information to the people because of some reasons. The first reason is that we lost an informational war. Our embassy doesn’t organize different round tables and good informational actions to explain the people real situation in Ukraine. Western journalists go to Ukraine, but not always understand the problems and real needs of the people. The second is that western media doesn’t have a real understanding of situation and usually concentrate on the sensations. And thirdly, western media brings  information from the Russian sources (because they translate it on the different languages). And many local journalists use it”.

Svereda also suggests that Ukrainian journalists, diplomacy and interested businessmen should promote the truth and illustrate the real needs and events in Ukraine.

Khrystyna Zanyk, a young Ukrainian journalist, who has lived abroad for a few years, has the same opinion  as Mr. Svereda – mostly the western media doesn’t provide  objective information, and the coverage of the Ukrainian situation is reliant on political trends.

“It depends on the country where these media are working and I can say that in one countries it is more balanced showing, but in other countries where politicians are supporting more Russian side,  the media are not so balanced and very often they can show only one side of the conflict or they try not to talk about Ukraine a much, or just showing some events which are not connecting  with the situation. That’s why people who are living here sometimes can’t get real balanced opinion but more only one side, not Ukrainian, not democratic  side”.

But truth doesn`t have any side. And people from the Ukrainian Institute in Rome try to share  truthful information. They just humbly do their mission and feel happiness of it. 

10/07/2014 12:52