FIRST EVER CATHOLIC CHURCH IN ATYRAU TO BE CONSECRATED
Sydney, 2nd of August 2002. On Sunday 6th August 2002 in the oil town of Atyrau (population 145,000) on the Caspian Sea, the church of the Transfiguration of the Lord will be formally blessed. It will be the first Catholic church ever in this overwhelmingly Muslim and Orthodox region. Now the Catholic community will be able to move out of its present cramped conditions - the home of the parish priest - and celebrate Mass in their own purpose-built church, with its adjoining modern parish centre, on a 1,000-square-metre site.
The news was announced at the HQ's of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need by Bishop Janusz Kaleta, who has been the apostolic administrator in Atyrau since the autumn of 1999.
Bishop Kaleta has invited Bishop Victor Skworc, of his own home diocese of Tarnow in Poland, to be the principal celebrant at the consecration ceremony. Among the concelebrating Church dignitaries will be the apostolic nuncio in Kazakhstan, Archbishop Joseph Weselowski, the apostolic administrator in Astana, Bishop Thomasz Peta, the apostolic administrator in Almaty, Bishop Henry Teofil Howaniec, OFM, and Bishop Jan Paul Lenga of Karaganda. Likewise expected to be present will be representatives of the other religious communions in the region and civic dignitaries from the town.
Throughout the entire apostolic administration of Atyrau, which currently consists of one parish in Atyrau and another parish in Aktjubinsk, something under 400 miles away, there are just two priests who minister to the 600 or so Catholics who are actively involved in parish life. Most of these are Europeans or Koreans. In addition to these there are around 20,000 "passive" Catholic believers.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) helped towards the construction of this church and its accompanying parish centre with a grant of $173,000. In total, between 1997 and 2001 ACN has contributed over $4.1 million for pastoral projects in Kazakhstan.
Photo: The church of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Atyrau
For further information please contact:
Aid to the Church in Need
Phone/Fax: 02 9679-1929