ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - A new cathedral dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima in the land of the gulag

Monday, 10 September 2012

Karaganda (Agenzia Fides) - The Diocese of Kazaka in Karaganda has officially inaugurated the new Cathedral dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, "Mary, Mother of All Nations." The solemn rite of consecration was celebrated yesterday, Sunday, September 9 and was presided by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Special Envoy of His Holiness Benedict XVI. Along with His Exc. Mgr. Janusz Kaleta, Bishop of Karaganda, other Bishops of Kazakhstan concelebrated. As reported to Fides Agency, there were more than 1,500 faithful, among priests, nuns and Kazakhs pilgrims and other 14 nationalities, even Korea, as well as Orthodox Christian, Muslim leaders, and local civil authorities
The church, in Gothic style and covered in stone of Caucasus, was built thanks to the donations of the faithful in the world, and thanks to the contribution of the previous Bishops of Karaganda, Mgr. Pavel Lenga, and Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider. The building permit was granted by the Government of Kazako to the local church in 2003.
In an interview with Fides, Mgr. Janusz Kaleta, Bishop of Karaganda, expressed "great joy for a real Cathedral: a big church to be a place of prayer and a visible sign to attract new faithful to the Christian faith." Noting that it was "a great event, which also involved the civil community," the Bishop thanked "all those who have contributed to this project."
"We all believe that these are the fruits of the martyrs and the suffering that Christians lived in the past in these lands," remarked to Fides Fr. Piotr Pytlowany, Rector of the Seminary of the diocese. "We entrust the Catholic community in Kazakhstan, and in all the countries of the former Soviet Union, to the special protection of the Virgin of Fatima, who has already worked miracles: for example we recall the support received from the local government for this project."
In the Soviet era, Kazakhstan became a place of deportation par excellence: among the deportees in the "gulag" there were thousands of Catholics of Polish, Ukrainian, German nationality, but also from Lithuania and Belarus. The city of Karaganda was the center of a web of camps called "Karlag" ("Karaganda lager"), one of the largest and most horrible points of the universe of Soviet concentration camps, that imprisoned the victims of religious and political oppression. Many priests deported favored the emergence of a clandestine Church: among these is Fr. Alexij Saritski, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2001. Today in Karaganda, a city of two million and a half inhabitants, there is a large mosque, an Orthodox church, and a new Catholic Cathedral, to celebrate faith and to remember the martyrs. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 10/09/2012)