Polish priest visits metro Detroit churches to advocate help for Ukrainian refugees

Posted at 10:45 PM, Aug 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-18 23:19:55-04

GROSSE POINTE PARK, Mich. (WXYZ) — This week, a Polish priest is in metro Detroit speaking about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. For almost six months, he’s been housing refugees fleeing the war-torn country.

During that time, 45 volunteers from metro Detroit have visited to help.

Now Fr. Marek Machala is visiting Detroit to share his message that the war is not over and refugees still need help.

"The main goal of our project is to help people to rebuild their life, to give them the sensation of stability of safety,” said Machala, who was recently given the title of chaplain of refugees for the Archdiocese of Przemysl, a Polish city less than 10 miles from the Ukrainian border.

Machala and his team is temporarily housing nearly 200 refugees, a number that’s been steady since the war began. They’ve set up numerous shelters with help from volunteers including 45 coming through St. Clare Montefalco Catholic Church in Grosse Pointe Park.

John May and his wife Liz were two of those volunteers who spent an entire month in Poland.

“Liz and I just looked at each other and there was no discussion, we said, 'We’re going,'” John May said.

While in Poland, John May chauffeured his wife to 15 refugee centers, where Liz May used her experience as a retired physician to provide medical care to refugees in need.

“It was a group of young mothers and many children,” Liz May said. "It was remarkable to see how calming having us for the month resulting in people trusting us.”

According to the UN Refugee Agency, more than 11 million people have fled Ukraine since the war began. While the number of refugees entering Poland has certainly slowed since the early days of the war, attention to the war itself has slowed too.

“They still need help," John May said of the refugees. "I'm very concerned Americans have short attention spans.”

After sharing his message in metro Detroit, Machala will be back Poland. There, he will continue providing food and shelter to dozens of refugees who continue to wait for war to end.

“I pray it everyday," Machala said of an end to the war. "But we see the end of the war is not so close.”

Machala says his group spends about $100,000 every month to support the refugees in their care, and have about two months of funding left. However, he expects the crisis will last much longer.

For more information on donating, visit their website.

If you prefer to donate through an American organization for tax purposes, the Archdiocese of Miami is accepting donations to send to Machala. You can contact Sister Elizabeth Worley at 305-450-6420 or by email at The mailing address is 9401 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami Shores, Florida 33138.