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Organising from a sabbatical in Assisi

It is not often recognised that the Franciscan movement starts in violent conflict between Assisi, the town of Francis, and neighbouring Perugia: reconciliation and the environment are now central to Franciscans
Francis came from a wealthy family and fought for Assisi. It was a disaster and he was held prisoner for a year. Later he tried to return to the life of a knight but came home broken as shown by the statue in front of his basilica. He was forever changed by the experience of violent conflict and later had a vision where Jesus spoke to him from the St Damiano Cross (below) and directed him to rebuild the church. It took a while for Francis to understand  that he was to rebuild the whole church with a radically new and demanding understanding of the religious life.
As I have spent time before this cross over the last fortnight, I ask that my own rebuilding will be successful.

Concrete progress has been made for June’s supply trip to Ukraine. Two former Welsh NHS ambulances and a pickup have been purchased and are now with a mechanic to ascertain roadworthiness for the long journey

The vehicles have been purchased through British Ukrainian Aid and, while I have raised the money, they have organised the purchase and mechanical testing. Before leaving, the vehicles will be loaded with non-lethal supplies which will be delivered close to the front line. We hope to drive the vehicles to the capital Kyiv and will hand them over either in Kyiv or between Kyiv and areas of conflict.

From top left: St Francis’ cave at La Verna where he received the marks of Christ’s Passion;
St Leonardo’s, the Anglican Church in Assisi; with two members of the Anglican Greyfriars, a new religious movement based in England.

Being in Assisi, I’ve been reflecting on the challenging inspiration of Francis. He always asked his brothers to preach primarily by action: “by our example more than by our words”. This he himself did eg. by embracing a leper. He also recognised the integrity of other people eg. spending time with a Sultan while a crusade was being fought around them. I’m reminded of the saying attributed to Edmond Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.”

Felix Kennedy’s fund raising: Running 150 miles in 15 days

Felix is running and walking 150 miles in 15 days representing one tenth of the journey from London to Kyiv

  • Felix is successfully raising money for two ambulances and supplies to be taken out to Ukraine in June
  • He is doing an average of 10 miles each day for more than two weeks: that’s nearly 6 marathons or over 48 park runs
  • The last day, Saturday 8 April, he is joined by his brothers and father to complete his task running from the Ukrainian Embassy to St Vedast Church via a traditional London pub

The pick up is becoming two ambulances

The time to travel draws near; either the first or second week in June. Plans solidify and decisions are taken. Ideally two former NHS ambulances, with supplies, will be driven into Ukraine.

Ambulances would go to hospitals near the front line caring for both injured combatants and civilians. The ambulances would be driven from London with supplies gathered by various supporters and charities.

After delivering the ambulances, I plan to spend some time in Kyiv with the husband of the Ukrainian family staying with us in our London Rectory. As well as visiting the Anglican chaplaincy (of course), I’m looking forward to experiencing the Greek Catholic Church which is the Church of our Ukrainian family. 

I have been moved by the support I’ve received; both financial and voluntary. The original idea has grown and morphed. Thank you to all who have offered support. Any further help is gratefully received and will make a material difference to the supplies and vehicles delivered.

An alternative to ambulances is to repurpose pickup trucks to carry the injured. The pickups are needed on the frontline where ambulances could not cope with the conditions. Ambulances are needed behind the frontline for field hospitals and targeted civilians. Newly delivered ambulances replace those that become targets themselves or succumb to the wartime conditions; often only lasting six months.

24 February 2024 Marked two years since the start of the Full Scale Invasion

Commemorations started with a standing room only interfaith service at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, London Speakers, both religious and political, wished that they were not here in these circumstances but also expressed the importance of solidarity and the Ukraine/Uk relationship. The 528 paper angels which were hung from the balcony are each for children killed in the conflict.

After the service, we were joined by hundreds of other people marching from Speakers’ Corner to a vigil and Trafalgar Square. The mood was somber but defiant; it’s not just two years since the full scale invasion but 10 years of war following the annexation of Crimea and war in Donbas, eastern Ukraine.

A pickup truck to the Front Line

It’s two years since Russia’s full scale invasion and support for Ukraine is needed now more than ever.

  • Medical supplies for the front line are lifesaving; especially as the first hour after an injury can be critical for survival.
  • A pickup truck can rescue people from the scene of combat or deliver supplies.
  • A drone, with a medical unit, can identify where the injured are and drop life saving equipment.
  • General medical supplies, clothing and rations are essential for health and wellbeing.

An ambulance previously delivered

This is not just about what is supplied; the delivery itself raises moral showing that those facing daunting odds are supported and valued.

My support of Ukraine is both humanitarian and personal. Ukraine is bravely resisting an existential threat. If Russia prevails, not only will her policy of deporting children and extreme violence continue within Ukraine, but wider Europe will be destabilised: Ukraine’s war is our war. My personal support comes from living with a Ukrainian family for the last 18 months and hearing of the horrific conditions and casualties among both civilians and combatants.

The goal is £10,000 and any donation will help:

  • £5,000 can supply a pickup truck in good conditions eg. Mitsubishi L200
  • £3,000 can supply a drone for a medical unit (if more is donated a drone with thermal imaging can identify the injured);
  • £30 may provide a sleeping bag, boots or an emergency medical kit.

Life saving tourniquets

A clearing house in London for medical supplies keeps costs to a minimum and army surplus helps with sleeping bags etc.

Running with Ukrainian Scouts

in London