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Tuesday, March 28, 2017
First Catholic ordination in Siberia since Russian Revolution
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 The Catholics of Siberia had waited over 70 years for this day. On Holy Trinity Sunday, a Russian-born deacon was ordained priest by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos in the Cathedral of Irkutsk. The fact that this priest, Fr Yevgeni Peregudov, who studied at the seminary of St Petersburg, was ordained by the prefect of the Vatican's Clergy Congregation is seen as a sign of hope and a tribute to the Catholic church in Russia. In his sermon, the cardinal underlined the fact that this ordination had been possible only thanks to the support and prayers of countless people who had kept their faith during the times of persecution. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of the faithful and by all the priests and religious sisters of the apostolic administration for Eastern Siberia. The international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need was represented by its principal ecclesiastical assistant, Fr Joaquín Alliende, and by Mgr Kazimierz Piwowarski, who is responsible for the charity's aid to the Catholic Church in Poland and Russia. During his visit the cardinal saw some of the projects supported by ACN in Eastern Siberia. In Angarsk, he met the sisters who give catechism instruction and, especially in the long winter months, devote themselves to the care of children and elderly people. In Usolye Sibirskoe, he celebrated a Mass with the parishioners in their recently restored chapel. Here it is planned to establish a pilgrim centre in honour of St Rafal Kalinovski. One particularly moving encounter was his meeting with Valentina Adolfovna Pavlovskaya, one of the innumerable 'babushkas' who kept the faith and passed it on, through years of persecution and hardship. She told Cardinal Castrillon that for 67 years she had been unable to visit a church because there were no churches or priests in those days. This encounter underlines still more clearly the significance of this first priestly ordination in Siberia and the need for our continued intensive help for the local Church here. Aid to the Church in Need supports the training of the seminarians in Russia's only Catholic seminary, in St Petersburg, and has been doing so ever since it was reopened in 1995 - with around £60,000 annually. Last year they donated £1.2million to pastoral projects.
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