Ashgabat (Agenzia Fides) - "Sharing the joy of faith in Christ, we are happy to share with all the grace and joy that comes from faith. This joy arrived in Turkmenistan 18 years ago as a great gift. We still do not have a church made of brick or wood. But we built our Church of living stones". This was stated in a note sent to Agenzia Fides by Fr. Andrzej Madej, OMI, Superior of Missio sui iuris in Turkmenistan, established in 1997 by Pope John Paul II. Fr. Madej lives and works there, with a community of confreres, as a representative of the Holy See to Ashgabat.
"We live in a country that only twenty years ago was still part of the Soviet empire. In this country - explains the missionary - one tried to build a society without God, or even a society opposed to God. Today the local Church is run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and takes care of a Catholic community of about 150 people. They attend Mass in Russian and in English. It takes about three years to prepare our catechumens for Baptism".
"Our community prays in a rented building, but enthusiasm is not lacking, while the number of people who come to Church continues to grow. Our Church is always trying to be a source of joy and light overlooking the Kara-Kum desert, spreading the message of love, solidarity and hope of Jesus, always trying to respect the culture and traditions of this beautiful country" continues the Superior.
"We have witnessed how these years of life without God have left many wounds: broken families, domestic violence, wounded humanity, loss of sense of life. Many mass graves have been found. The nation lives on the ruins of ideologies without God. Now is the time of reconciliation, the beginning of renewal, of a new life, of new links and new hopes. About 18 years ago a Catholic community was reborn in the land of Turkmenistan. The Good News fascinates and attracts people to Jesus. The Word of God has the power to bring together those who have been scattered 'like sheep without a shepherd'. Today the Church is a community of reconciliation, which heals the wounds of separation, heal hearts, gives new peace and revives confidence", concludes Fr. Madej. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 26/11/2014)