The Congregation of Sisters of Mercy of St. Vincent de Paul was founded in Ukraine (in the Byzantine rite) by Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky on June 8, 1926 as eastern branch of the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy of St. Vincent, originated in Deinze, Belgium in 1836.
The first house of the Congregation was in Stanislav (currently Ivano-Frankivsk). The sisters took care of orphans. Three years later another community house opened in Lviv. The sisters’ charism was to look after orphans and to work in the new constructed “national hospital” for poor people and people of low income. The hospital was staffed by the sisters (management and medical personnel). The prioress of the Lviv monastery, Mother Elisabeta Poppe, was the administrator of the hospital. From 1939, the first arrival of Soviet authorities (in western Ukraine), sisters suffered nationalization (confiscation) of monastic property, were forced to move many times, but were able to continue to maintain their monastic community. In the time of the underground (persecution of the Church by communists 1939-1989), the sisters consistently worked in state jobs (mostly in the hospital) and executed their spiritual functions in hidden way. All they catechized and prepared the children and adults for Baptism, Confession, Marriage, helped to ill and solitary old people, organized the secret Liturgy and informed the faithful about it, distributed the religious literature, hid Holy Gifts.
Today 53 sisters live in 4 dioceses of Ukraine and perform their service manifesting:
- Mercy in caring for the sick and the needy. Sisters help the sick and the needy as doctors and nurses in different hospitals of Ukraine. With loving heart and patient devotion, they help to bear sufferings in the monastic palliative care house “House of St. Vincent”.
- Mercy in prayers and songs. Sisters cherish and develop liturgical singing of Byzantine tradition, performing solo chants, compositions of different composers and their own music. Ensemble frequently participates in mission trips and projects.
- Mercy in pedagogical and educational work with children and the youth. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, developing in-born abilities, putting their hearts and souls in labour of love, sisters are actively involved into catechizing and educating children and the youth.
- Mercy in caring for orphans. Sisters founded a family-style orphanage in village Demenky, Poltava region. They also visit and help to care orphans in some state orphanages.
Sisters develop new directions of their activity such as legal service, translations, working in the Church commissions.
In addition, they are working on the opening pastoral mission in Italy (Avellino) for Ukrainian labour migrants.