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2013-09-16

ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - A new Greek-Catholic church, in memory of bishops and priests prisoners in the gulag

Karaganda (Agenzia Fides) - "Bishop Aleksandr Khyra, other priests like Fr. Alexey Zarytskyi, Fr. Nikolay Shaban and Fr. Stepan Pryshliak, all prisoners in the gulag and many of whom are now blessed, are the spiritual fathers of our Greek-Catholic Church in Kazakhstan": says to Fides the Bishop of Karaganda, Janusz Kaleta, on the sidelines of the celebration of the consecration of the new Greek-Catholic Church of Saint Joseph in Astana, "a new gift of God for our little church in Kazakhstna". The Mass of consecration was celebrated yesterday by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, on a visit to Kazakhstan until 17 September. It was an intensely moving celebration", in which the local Church "commemorated its history, its roots, in order to live its future in faith and hope", some priests present told Fides. Bishop Kaleta, who today welcomes Cardinal Sandri in Karaganda, for the last part of his visit, reminds Fides Agency what these roots are: "With the liquidation of the Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine, in 1946, all the bishops and many priests were arrested and sent to concentration camps, many in Kazakh territory. This presence of theirs, was in fact, the beginning of the Greek-Catholic Church in Kazakhstan, where thousands of Ukrainians were deported from Western Ukraine as from 1939". The Greek-Catholic Church in the Central Asian country is therefore born as "the result of Stalin's purges", living testimony of how "from something bad something good can be born and of how God can grow faith even in the desert of atheism, repression and persecution". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 16/09/2013)

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