Tashkent (Agenzia Fides) - At Easter 2022, liturgical and pastoral activities will resume, without restrictions, for the community of the Uzbek faithful. This is what Fr. Jerzy Maculewicz, OFM Conv., Apostolic Administrator of Uzbekistan tells Fides: "Here in the 'Sacred Heart of Jesus' parish in Tashkent, we organize the Stations of the Cross every Friday with children and adults, while in other Uzbek parishes, there are also spiritual exercises. With the priests of the other cities, we have decided to bring forward to Monday, April 11 the mass of blessing of the oil of the chrism for the renewal of priestly vows, in order to live together this important moment, but also so that the most distant priests can return home in time to prepare for the Easter Triduum. All this is made possible by the fact that the cases of Covid-19 have decreased dramatically in this country. Finally, we we will be able to live Holy Week with all the liturgical celebrations in attendance after two years of Easter celebrations from a distance".
The data related to coronavirus cases in Uzbekistan are increasingly encouraging, and the return to pre-pandemic life has also led to a return of the international community to the country. This phenomenon also affects the parish of Tashkent, creating new needs. In this regard, the Franciscan friar said: "For the Easter triduum, given the great growth of the international community, we would have liked to celebrate two masses by appointment, one in Russian and one in English, but there are norms according to which it is preferable to have a single celebration on the days of the triduum. However, to make everyone feel welcome and to allow us to live intensely this central moment in the life of every Christian, we have decided to read the readings liturgical celebrations in Russian, English, Korean and Polish. We are therefore going to experience an international Easter Triduum". Currently, the small Uzbek Catholic community of approximately 3,000 baptized members has five parishes spread across the country. Besides the approximately 700 faithful in Tashkent, there are others in Samarkand, Bukhara, Urgench and Fergana. In Angren, where there are plans to build a new church, there are 25 faithful. The Uzbek population, made up of 30 million inhabitants, is 90% Muslim. About 3.5% are Russian Orthodox Christians, while a further 3% include small Christian communities of other denominations, including Catholics. (LF-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 11/4/2022)