Grand opening of the humanitarian aid center in Saransk, headed by Metropolitan Zenovy of Saransk and Mordovia. Photo:

Grand opening of the humanitarian aid center in Saransk, headed by Metropolitan Zenovy of Saransk and Mordovia. Photo: – 6/6/17

In celebration of today’s holiday of the Day of Protection of Children, the Russian and Romanian Orthodox Churches have reported on help rendered by their humanitarian centers over the past year.

The Russian Orthodox Church has opened 55 new humanitarian aid centers since June 1, 2016, reports the Department for Charity and Social Services. The construction of the new centers was made possible by the Church-wide fundraising announced by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill last year on the eve of this holiday.

In his homily that day, Pat. Kirill called upon the faithful to offer their care:

To help women finding themselves in difficult circumstances, and to open new social centers, on this day of the Resurrection I call upon you to respond to my entreaty and offer what you can for this blessed Church-wide endeavor. The collected offerings will be sent to the account of the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Services, which will take up the responsibility for distributing the funds and organizing centers for humanitarian aid.

Russian Orthodox parishioners collected 39 million rubles ($69,000). Funds were distributed by the department on a competitive basis, which led to the opening of 55 humanitarian aid centers. Within just three months of operation, 2,817 families have been helped in 589 locales.

There are 100 such centers in Russia today, as well as 49 homes for pregnant and women with children, organized with the participation of the Church.

“A minimum of thirteen new centers will open by the end of the year. Most likely there will be more,” said the synodal department’s director for the protection of family, motherhood, and childhood Maria Studenikina. “The dioceses actively responded to the call to participate in the competition and to create centers of humanitarian aid. Our experience shows that women who fall into distress and are on the verge of abortion often decide to keep the baby when they get help.”

Meanwhile, about 30,000 children received help from such Church centers in Romania during the same period, reports the Basilica News Agency.

“Concern for these gifts of God to the Christian family,” as His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel referred to children, “is reflected in the social projects and philanthropic undertakings of our Church on behalf of them.”

Of the 718 social institutions that exist in the Romanian Patriarchate, the following institutions are dedicated strictly to children:

93 day care centers,
36 family centers,
40 kindergartens social and afterschool programs
14 camps,
47 educational centers.

However, there are other types of social institutions providing services for different age categories, including the youth of the Church:

159 social canteens and bakeries,
38 institutions that offer medical services and pharmacies,
22 office of social assistance and community centers,
65 centers for information, counseling and resource centers,
21 emergency centers for victims of domestic violence.

“Homes for orphans and day care centers for the children of the Church have as their guiding light the merciful love of Christ shown to the children and young people, as He healed the sick daughter of the Canaanite woman,” remarked Patriarch Daniel.