There’s a beautiful blue and yellow quilt hanging in the Ukrainian Club Kalyna in Leicester that’s a continual reminder of the compassion and prayers we offer to the people of Ukraine.
It’s been lovingly hand-stitched by a faithful and faith-filled network of quilters, who regularly retreat at Launde Abbey, and felt called to show their solidarity and support in the midst of current struggles.
When the Ukraine was invaded, the challenge for so many people across the UK was, how can I help? This call to action felt particularly significant for Elaine Wyspianski, a residential house assistant at Launde Abbey, whose family know all too well the pain of war and displacement.
Elaine herself was born on a Polish Resettlement Camp in Bedfordshire, and her Polish family originated from the town of Lwów (now called Lviv, and part of the Ukraine).
She explains: “When Russia invaded Ukraine, it was a very acute reminder of my own Polish war-scarred heritage, and what it was like to part of a displaced, pain-filled community. This is, however, no real comparison to what the people of the Ukraine were and are currently facing.”
She continues: “From my experience as a former fundraiser, I know firsthand how important it is to try and encourage and empower in helplessness – it’s not simply about raising cash but engaging with our emotional selves in our giving,” she says.
“When Revd Claire Goode (serving Retreat Leader and former Chaplain of Launde Abbey) was visiting the Abbey, we were discussing the intense sense of helplessness, and what we could do. It occurred to me that we might harness Claire’s network of quilters to engage in a project. I suggested that she ‘throw out the net’, with the remit for each quilter to use their own creativity in making ‘a square’ using solely the colours of the Ukrainian flag. Claire would then take safe custody and bind them together to make a complete quilt.”
In addition to being an Anglican priest, Revd Claire is a very experienced and talented quilting and embroidery teacher, and as such has regularly led quilting retreats at Launde for many years. Always with a spiritual focus, these retreats are very popular and have grown a loyal group of repeat guests. Revd Claire agreed this would be an opportunity to show love, support and prayer in every stitch The intent was to then raise money from the sale of the quilt, while highlighting the profile of the Ukrainian people’s plight.
And it worked. A generous donation was recently offered by Myron and Ola Nykolyszyn for the completed quilt, which they’ve also gifted to the Ukrainian Club Kalyna in Leicester. The couple are both of Ukrainian descent, with Myron a valued member of diocesan staff working on reception and as a night porter at St Martins Lodge, as well as covering shifts at Launde Abbey.
Elaine believes it’s important for the Launde community to be involved with outreach and loving service, she says: “We are all called to be the hands, feet and faces of the Lord we serve…in all that we do.
“Launde Abbey is a community where we seek to enable the ‘servants’ heart’, enriching their expression of this, and encouraging one another on the Christian path. I am reminded of the words in the hymn…Here I am Lord, is it I Lord? ….I will hold your people in my heart.”
Pictured: Ola and Myron Nykolyszyn handing the quilt over to Revd Alison Myers, Warden of Launde Abbey.