Russia: Help for the 76 religious sisters in the diocese of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Novosibirsk
The diocese of the Transfiguration of the Lord, based in Novosibirsk, covers a total area of two million kmē. The exact number of Catholics in the diocese is not accurately known, though the best estimates suggest that there are a few hundred thousand people with Catholic roots - above all among those of German, Polish or Ukrainian extraction, or indeed other ethnic groups who in the past were deported to or resettled in Siberia. That does not of course mean that they all consider themselves Catholics today, but simply that their ancestors were Catholics. At present only around 10,000 people regularly attend Holy Mass on Sundays in the diocese.
Today in the diocese there are also a number of different religious communities of sisters - Pallottines, Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa, Saint Elisabeth sisters and many others more. Often these sisters travel to remote places, conducting Liturgies of the Word and preparing the children for their First Holy Communion. For decades in Siberia it was the women who passed on the Faith during the times of persecution. Now these religious sisters are helping with great devotion to stabilise, nurture and strengthen the various small communities. But above all they help the poor and disadvantaged in society.
(Four of the sisters in Novosibirsk who receive help from ACN)
To list all the good deeds that all 76 of these sisters perform, day in, day out in the diocese of the Transfiguration, would take a long time. Here they run a warm soup kitchen for the homeless, there they bring back a smile to the faces of children neglected and forgotten by society, here again they provide wise advice and counsel to those seeking help, or consolation to the suffering, unhappy or bereaved. Elsewhere they comfort the dying and help them to make a dignified ending, give a new home to abandoned street children, and care for the handicapped. But above all they bring the Word of God to these people who during the long years of persecution under the Communist regime were unable to live their faith freely, but at constant risk of ending up in one of the feared concentration camps. The sisters carry out their work with quiet humility, yet for so many people they are truly good angels - and not least for the priests, who would scarcely be able to carry out their ministry without the help of these consecrated religious. They are all of them supported in their precious and important activities by the prayers of the three Carmelite sisters who in 2002 established their contemplative convent in Novosibirsk. Many of the Catholic faithful now come to them to join with them in prayer.
All these religious sisters in the diocese of the Transfiguration of the Lord are dependent on outside help. Without the support of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) they would be unable to survive or give themselves in such generous and selfless service. ACN are helping all the sisters in the diocese, this time with a contribution of $47,000.
Bishop Joseph Werth wrote to the charity with the following note of thanks. "This help is truly an immense support for all our religious communities, and I am extremely grateful, as are the sisters in my diocese, that we have so far always been able to benefit from this aid."
The vital work of Catholic charities like Aid to the Church In Need provide a lifeline to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened. Please help our work by donating online or send your donation to Aid to the Church in Need, PO Box 6245 Blacktown DC NSW 2148. Ph: (02) 9679-1929
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