Ukrainian Soldiers have built a dugout chapel
April 13, 2015
Ukrainian soldiers that held the line near the village of Triokhizbenka in Luhansk region celebrated Easter in their own small wartime temple. They started building it after the truce had been announced, when the terrorists’ attacks became fewer. The work lasted three weeks. The first Liturgy in the chapel was celebrated on April 5, on Palm Sunday, with a large gathering of soldiers.
“We used to pray outdoors in the rain and wind, says ATO fighter Taras Horbachevskyy, “On the advice of a priest who takes care of us, we just decided to build a chapel at combat positions. Here one can pray and confess comfortably. It protects us from the weather and enemy’s fire.”
A Greek Catholic Studite priest, Fr Orest (Salo) came up with the idea to build a chapel. The chaplain’s idea was brought in life by fighter Stepаn Babunych. He comes from Turka district, Lviv region, before the war he had worked with wood, so he led the entire construction process here.
From outside the frontline chapel seems not very different from the other dugouts. Being dug in the ground, the construction is reinforced with solid pine ceiling beams. It is designed for ten to twelve people. The roof of the chapel is made of frames and boxes that contained Grads. It will not protect people from direct hit of a projectile, but will protect from shrapnel. The worshippers are convened to prayer by bell – a projectile shell.
“Our position is near the forest. So we had enough material. Each of us helped in the construction of the chapel all he could. All of us understood what an important work we did,” said Taras Horbachevskyy.
Most fighters who constructed the frontline church are, residents of Lviv region. They include Greek Catholics and Orthodox. However, at the frontline the religious affiliation is a tentative concept that is not paid much attention.
“The guys are positive, have a strong desire to pray. They have seen and survived a lot. They understand that they only need to trust in God,” says Fr. Orest.
On Palm Sunday the priest celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the chapel. He blessed the willow, administered the sacrament of confession to fighters. The soldiers from other positions and units also came to the feast. Judging by feedback, they remained satisfied – it was like a holiday at home. One of the participants of worship Stepan Bunyak, for example, admitted that he had never heard or spoken more synergetic Credo or Our Father.
Chaplain Orest (Salo) has been staying at the front since past July. In the ATO zone he was assigned to Lviv regional battalion. In every place where they were, they tried to pitch up a tent chapel, dig a bunker or even equip a convenient place for prayer. Such tent was arranged in the village of Pobeda. Nearby the soldiers also mounted a birch cross that survived during the merciless shelling and then its copy was solemnly carried in the cross procession of thousands people.