Ashgabat (Agenzia Fides) - “We are working on a programme for all the events of Holy Week in view of Holy Easter. Easter for us, a small flock of Catholics in this land, is an opportunity to bear witness to our faith. On Palm Sunday there will be a public procession of all the members of our community: usually we represent the entrty of Jesus in Jerusalem with the participation of many people who line the street with flowers, olive branches and clothes”. Fides was told by Fr. Andrzej Madej, a Polish priest of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and Superior of the Missio sui iuris of Turkmenistan.
Fr Madej is at present re-organising the activitie of the local Cathollic community after a long period of absence for institutional reasons. “I returned from Indonesia only a few days ago: in Jakarta, in recent weeks there was an important meeting for Oblates which I attended: every year our Superior General and his Council visits a continent and gathers together all the members of our Order in that specific geographical area, to verify and progamme our activity. Besides myself representing the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Turkmenistan, there were brother Oblates from the 14 countries of Asia in which we are present”.
Fr. Madej began his lengthy journey last February: he came to Rome to take part in the meeting on protection of minors in the Church and for the ad limina visit of the Bishops of Central Asia, held 25 February to 4 March. This appointment was followed by the another in Jakarta.
The Turkmen Catholic community comprises 250 faithful, who gather in the chapel of the Transfiguratione of the Lord, in Ashgabat the capital Two Oblates of Mary Immaculate priests lead this small flock, and they should welome a new priest in July this year. The local Catholic Church was born anew in 1997, when Pope John Paul II instituted the local Missio sui iuris. For thirteen years the presence of the Oblates was permitted only as “diplomatic representation Embassy of the Holy See”. In those days Catholics met in private homes and Mass was celebrated only on the diplomatic territory of the apostolic Nunciature of Ashgabat. In 2010 the presence of the Catholic Turkmen community was officially recognised by the government (LF) (Agenzia Fides 9/4/2019)