“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” — Matthew 25:35
Jesus teaches his disciples that in caring for the tragedy-stricken, we care for Him. As war wages between Russia and Ukraine, fleeing citizenry flock to safety in countries like the U.S., including the family of Maksym Lebedenko ’26.
“The guys here welcomed me as their brother,” says Maksym. “They are more than friends, they’re people who are good for you.” Maksym began his education at CM in September after leaving behind war-torn Odesa, Ukraine. Since stepping onto Baker Street, he has performed well in class, made a number of friends, and shows excitement about CM’s expansive list of co-curriculars. “I’ve joined the swimming team at CM! Because I grew up by the sea, I love swimming,” Maksym continued. “I also play on the eSports team. I really like playing games with the students here, competing with them.”
In his short time here, he’s caught the attention of CM President Dr. Folan. “Maksym talks to me every day. It speaks volumes that a young man is asking me how I’m doing,” Folan remarks. The president first met Maksym when he and his mother toured campus. Folan recalls that day, saying, “It was an immediate decision to admit Maksym as a student. His mother wanted him to be cared for in a place for him to flourish. That’s our mission, to care for those on the margins.”
CM has been the right school for Maksym, just as West Roxbury has been the right neighborhood, where he lives with his aunt. Maksym says family ties brought him to CM, “My aunt has lived here for 30 years. Her son, Vlad, went to CM.” Middle School Counselor, Ms. Mary Concannon remembers Vlad, saying, “as a Ukrainian immigrant, Vlad came to CM without speaking much English, then graduated from BU, fought in Afghanistan, and is now a Boston police officer.” The family connection isn’t lost on Maksym, “I feel like I’m continuing the work of my family, following the footsteps of my father’s nephew and going to CM with a legacy.”
Maksym says living with his aunt reminds him of Odesa. “There’s a certain Ukrainian soul,” he says. “The little things are celebrated. If I bring home a good grade, my family will cheer. I feel that way about the guys here, too. We like to celebrate together. Sometimes I don’t feel so far from home.”