Retired North Shore priest raises money for Ukrainian family and fellow priests

Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A retired Ukrainian Greek Catholic Priest is rallying support and funds on the Northshore to take care of his family and fellow priests still in the besieged country.

“It’s my land, they say, it belongs to us,” Monsignor Bilinsky said. “We have fought for centuries for our freedom, we have it, we will not give it up.”

Monsignor Bilinsky has asked those he knows and loves to flee, but they won’t. They have missions, so he does too.

“Now, I’m really retired, but do as much as I can,” Bilinsky said. “Luckily, God has given me energy, if not hair.”

The 82-year-old priest of nearly six decades has been wiring money he collects, even using his own, to Ukraine as soon as he gets it to support his cousins.

One cousin and his wife are surgeons who told him last night they are running out of medicine.

“It costs three times the price for insulin, to try and get insulin for people,” Bilinsky said.

He’s also supporting three priests that came to New Orleans when they were studying for the priesthood.

“The whole world is with Ukraine, but I still worry,” Bilinsky said. “I worry about those young priests. They’re only in their 40′s. Especially Father Olek and his three children. I really worry. I talked to him today. He said they spent all last night and a bomb shelter and it was very, very cold. They could not sleep last night. The rockets were so loud, of course, his children were frightened.”

Father Olek drives around during the day and hands out food he’s able to buy with Bilinsky’s funds. Father Andriy is taking care of 200 orphans and unaccompanied children fleeing Kyiv and other embattled areas. Father Victor and his wife stayed to run a women’s clinic and birthing center.

“Even though I sent them funds, they said the greatest weapon you can give us is prayer. It’s the faith of those people,” Bilinsky said.

In addition to his daily Rosary and prayer, Bilinsky gathered up $10,000 in just a week and a half and St. Benedict in Covington just wrote him a check for $19,000 more, but he wishes more could be one to get people out.

“We are proud Americans, we Ukrainians here in this country, but we wish for more help. We wish for more help from our government,” Bilinsky said. “It’s just too painful to watch. Especially in the mornings. I turn on the news, and I see what has been done overnight.”

Images that do more than break his heart.

“When I see a father was rescuing his son from Russian rockets, holding his 18-month-old son, bloody, dead, carrying him out of ruins that the Russians have caused,” Bilinsky said.

Images that rally him, because it’s his blood.

Back in the 1940′s, his mother’s family of farmers was completely wiped out by Stalin

“We understand what they are capable of,” Bilinsky said.

But, he knows the strength and faith of his people.

“The church will survive. It survived Stalin. It will survive Putin.”

Monsignor Bilinsky will be preaching at a holy hour tomorrow night at Mary Queen of Peace in Mandeville starting at 6:30 p.m.

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