ASIA/TURKMENISTAN - The Catholic community on the way between new baptisms and catechumenate

Thursday, 3 May 2018 mission   evangelization   baptism   local churches   religious minorities  

Missio sui iuris Turkmenistan

Ashgabat (Agenzia Fides) - "Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle. This inspires us: let us pray so that our candle does not blow out. We are a small Church, but we thank God because we have the opportunity to evangelize in this Central Asian country, announcing that the Risen Jesus Christ is the savior of humanity. The presence here offers us a unique opportunity to witness faith". This is what Fr. Andrzej Madej, Polish priest of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and Superior of the Missio sui iuris of Turkmenistan, told Agenzia Fides announcing the new baptisms celebrated in his community.
F. Madej says: "We lived the Easter season, the greatest event in the life of every Christian. During the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, there were some new baptized and others who renewed this sacrament: many of them received it when they were a child, but over the years they had moved away from the Church. We propose the catechumenate to them in order to understand what baptism means and what to believe means. In this way we help many people to return to the Church and be a living member of the mystical body of Jesus".
From May 28 to June 4, however, the Turkmen community will welcome three representatives on a pastoral visit: the Apostolic Nuncio Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, who will arrive from Ankara; the provincial of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Father Pavel, from Poland; an Oblate missionary representing Asia. Fr. Madej explains that it will be "an occasion to experience the strength of unity, remembering that we are at the same time members of an apostolic Nunciature, of the Church and of the small community of the Oblates".
In Turkmenistan, which has 5 million inhabitants and 90% Muslims, the Catholic Church was reborn with the Missio sui iuris established by John Paul II in 1997. For thirteen years, the presence of the Oblates was admitted only as a representative of the Vatican Embassy: at the beginning we met in private houses and the Mass was celebrated in the diplomatic territory of the Apostolic Nunciature of Ashgabat. In 2010 the Turkmen government officially recognized the Catholic presence. The Turkmen Catholic community, consisting of about two hundred faithful, meets in the chapel of the Transfiguration of the Lord, in the capital Ashgabat, and is led by two Oblate priests of Mary Immaculate. (LF) (Agenzia Fides, 3/5/2018)