Middle School students at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School in Ashland are pictured with their teacher, Mr. Levings, with signs they made in spring to show support for all affected by the military conflict in Ukraine. (Submitted photo)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald staff

In early June, Diocese of Superior Director of Development Steve Tarnowski reported that almost $180,000 had been collected for the Special Ukraine Collection, with funds still arriving.

While various parishes and organizations have undertaken efforts, only a few parishes are featured here – the clustered parishes of St. Joseph in Amery and Our Lady of the Lake in Balsam Lake, as well as Holy Family Parish in Woodruff.

Ann Krisik, a member of St. Joseph’s Church, shared how she got involved: “My heart was touched by what was happening. I was just devastated.”

Feeling that she couldn’t just continue internalizing the situation, Krisik felt she needed do something and trusted that others would add their support.

“Sure enough, everybody stepped up to the plate and we did a fantastic job,” she said.

More than $20,000 was raised after Krisik and her pastor, Fr. Gene Murphy, shared their heartfelt conviction at weekend Masses.

Krisik had contacted Tarnowski in Superior for advice. He gave her the analogous image of a train starting out in Amery heading to Ukraine by way of the U.S. Bishops collections in Washington, D.C. Collections were taken at Masses with a “caboose” basket for follow-up donations.

“Praise the people,” Krisik concluded. “I’m just so proud of what they did – they reached deep down into their pockets.”

Earlier in the spring, on Sunday, April 24, Holy Family Parish in Woodruff held a pancake breakfast hosted by the local Knights of Columbus Fr. Dodge Council 7827 to kick off a monthlong effort to support families in Ukraine.

Their $21,860 raised was given to the Ukraine Solidarity Fund, an initiative of the Knights of Columbus which has raised more than $10 million in assistance since the military conflict began. The campaign has focused on gifts of prayer in addition to the monetary donations.

In addition to special collections at Masses, the KC council established a special online donation site with 100 percent of all donations going directly to displaced Ukrainian families in need.

Woodruff’s pastor, Fr. Jerry Hagen, stated, “The generous support of our parishioners and visitors, along with the selfless efforts of our Knights of Columbus Council, has been a wonderful example of caring for our vulnerable brothers and sisters in the world. We will continue to pray for those displaced by the violence and hope that these efforts will help move hearts and bring a new day to Ukraine.”

Tarnowski reflected, “The effort in our diocese has been extraordinarily successful thanks to the generosity and compassion of such a large percentage of our Catholic households.” He noted that the generosity is on par with giving efforts after the Hurricane Katrina natural disaster in 2005.

“The amount contributed is astounding, considering Superior is a relatively small diocese, but it speaks to the humanitarianism of our people and our eagerness to act in response in any crisis.”