EURASIA/RUSSIA - Siberia, a new Catholic Church dedicated and named after Saint Joseph in Berdsk

Thursday, 22 June 2023 mission   evangelization   local churches   ecumenicalism  

Foto: Studio "Kana" - Sibirskaja Katoličeskaja Gazeta

Berdsk (Agenzia Fides) - The new Catholic Church in the heart of Siberia is named after Saint Joseph. Members of the small Catholic community in Berdsk, a town of 95,000 people 40 kilometers from Novosibirsk, are delighted with the new church. The new church of the parish of the same name was consecrated on Sunday, June 18 by Joseph Werth, Bishop of the diocese of the Transfiguration in Novosibirsk, in the presence of about fifty faithful and some representatives of the city administration. Bishop Werth, who has been at the head of this diocese since 1991, concelebrated with some priests of the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, who had been commissioned by the bishop to build the new church: Father Alfredo Fecondo FSCB, since 2011 parish priest of St. Joseph parish; Father Francesco Bertolina (FSCB), parish priest in Krasnozërsk, a town about 300 km from Novosibirsk, who in the last year has helped his confrere Father Alfredo not only in the pastoral service, but also in coping with a sudden flooding of the building which occurred last year; Father Paolo Paganini FSCB, now living in Rome, but followed the works in recent years and exercised his ministry for a period in Berdsk; Father Giampiero Caruso, chaplain of the Italian community in Moscow, who had carried out his ministry for a period of time in the nearby city of Akademgorodok and who also participated in the event as a representative of those who, from the capital, wanted to make a donation for the construction of the new church and Father Paolo Sottopietra FSCB, Superior General of the Society of Priests who had traveled all the way from Rome to take part in the inauguration ceremony. The greetings of a representative of the municipality of Berdsk present there was significant, who expressed the wish that the city's Catholic community could be a sign of unity and reconciliation. The realization of what Bishop Werth defined in his homily as a "dream" was possible thanks to numerous benefactors, in particular Italian and German donors who generously contributed to the construction of the building. The bishop also recalled those who gave their lives so that the Catholic communities could be kept in faith in times of persecution: "I would like to commemorate our priests who died in the camps: martyrs of the Church who help us from heaven today, who in difficult times served the faithful of Western Siberia and our vast country". During the celebration, a chalice that Saint John Paul II had given to the Fraternity of Saint Charles Borromeo was given to the parish, to be used in a Catholic church in Siberia, as well as the relics of Saint Thecla and Saints Ambrose and Charles, offered by the Congregation of Oblates of Saints Ambrogio and Charles of Milan. Also, a young parishioner received the Sacrament of Confirmation from Bishop Werth, a sign that the small local Catholic community continues to be vibrant despite historical difficulties. During the Soviet era and in the years immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Catholics of Bersk and its surroundings gathered in makeshift buildings: premises in ramshackle buildings and private homes. When the building that was then used as a parish church burned down in 2013, work began on the construction of a new church with the support of Italian and German Catholics, so that the Catholic community of the city and of the surrounding area, which today has about a hundred baptized people, could have an appropriate place of worship. (CD) (Agenzia Fides, 22/6/2023)