Redemptorists in Russia and Kazakhstan
In 1908 three Redemptorists from Poland left for Russia to renew the spiritual life in the parishes by their missionary work. They visited some big cities in Siberia. In 1909 the same mission went to some of the cities in Caucasus. During Stalin’s time many Redemptorists were victims of repression. Fr Vasili Rutka of the Ukrainian Province, a Greek Catholic priest, is one of them. In 1958 he was sent into exile to Siberia (Prokopyevsk) where he worked in a coal mine and secretly administered the sacraments. He died in 1991. His successor, Fr Yaroslav Spodar, also a Redemptorist from the Ukraine, carried on Fr. Rutka’s work in Prokopievsk, Novokuznetsk and other places in the same Oblast (Region).
In 1993 the Redemptorist Fathers arrived in Petropavlovsk (Kazakhstan) and Orenburg (Russia). Fr Zbignev Kotlinski, a Polish Redemptorist, who had spent many years working in Argentina and Bolivia, was appointed to a missionary apostolate in Petropavlovsk. As it was most unlikely that Catholic church there, taken over during Communist times, would be given back to the Catholics, he immediately began another church. This new church, the church of the Holy Trinity, was consecrated in 2000. The construction of a Redemptorists’ monastery on a neighbouring building site was also successfully completed. Then the old church called the church of The Sacred Heart of Jesus, was returned to the Catholics. The Redemptoristine Sisters, who arrived in Petropavlovsk in March 2001, built their monastery near the old church.
Fr Gregory Rukshtello restored an old church in Orenburg. It was consecrated in 1997, 150 years after its first consecration. A theology college was founded there in 1995. This institution offers its students the unique opportunity to learn the history of the Church, to study various philosophical and theological subjects and thus strengthen their faith.
In 1996 an “international” community of Redemptorist Fathers started in Kemerovo. Fr. Yaroslac Spoder, who lived with Fr. Rutka and succeeded him when he died, Fr Tony Branagan, Irish by birth who had worked many years in Brazil, Fr. Andre Maika from the Ukrainian Province and Fr Dariush Lisakovski from Poland were the members of this new community. Fr. Darius, beloved by all parishioners especially by the youth, organized the Russian delegation to the World Youth Day 2000 celebrations in Rome. Unfortunately, Fr Dariush was tragically killed in a road accident on the 19th of January 2001.
In Orsk (the Orenburg region) a Redemptorist community has existed since 1998. There a parish centre, chapel and new church have been build. The church is dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help and was consecrated in 2007. So the Redemptorists there are continuing Pope Pius IX’s request on the 11th of December 1865 when entrusting the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help to the Redemptorists: “Make her known throughout the world”.
Now in 2010 seventeen Redemptorist Fathers work in Prokopievsk of the Ukrainian Province and in Orenburg, Orsk, Kemerovo, Kaliningrad and Petrovpavlovsk (Kazakhstan) of the Polish Redemptorist Region. Pray that we may respond to God’s will.