Superior General: Christmas in Turkmenistan

Originally Published on OMIWORLD.ORG

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The Oblate community in Ashgabat is eagerly anticipating the visit of the Superior General, Fr. Luis Ignacio ROIS ALONSO, OMI. He will be in Turkmenistan from December 22 – 28, 2023.

The Oblate presence in Turkmenistan dates back almost 26 years and began with the arrival of Oblate Fathers  Andrzej MADEJ and Radoslaw ZMITROWICZ —the former still leading the Mission Sui Iuris, while the latter serves as an auxiliary Bishop in Ukraine. Throughout this period, various Oblates have fervently shared the Word of God, leaving an enduring impact on the local community. Despite Turkmenistan’s predominantly Muslim population, the people of Turkmenistan have been very welcoming.

Currently, the Oblate community in Turkmenistan comprises two members: Fr. Andrzej MADEJ and Fr. Paweł KUBIAK. They fulfil the roles of missionaries and official representatives of the Holy See, serving as the sole Catholic priests ministering in the country’s only Catholic Church. Fr. Paweł, who assumed his position as the community’s superior and treasurer in August, brings extensive experience from Ukraine, the North Caucasus, and Crimea.

Despite the initial challenge of acclimating to the country’s extreme climate, the warmth of the local people has left a profound impression. Looking forward, the community is eagerly anticipating Father General’s visit, especially during this festive Christmas season. The itinerary includes dedicated time for liturgy, communal prayers, meaningful conversations, and, when time permits, exploring the scenic beauty of the Ashgabat area through community walks. The excitement for these activities is palpable and met with great joy.

Announcing this visit, Fr. Chicho wrote in his personal Blog, Cor Unum,

“I aspire to celebrate Christmas in the smallest unit of our Congregation: Turkmenistan. God willing, I will be with them from December 22nd to 28th. In this mission, two Oblates are reopening the path of the Church in these lands while representing it through their diplomatic service. It’s a small Church, a beautiful mission that serves as a poignant reminder that Jesus chose to be born in fragility, poverty, and under the care of the least among us, allowing himself to be tended to by them. As I accompany our two missionaries, I am confident that our charismatic family will once again come together on this new pilgrimage to discover the missionary challenges of our time. I also hope some missionaries will be inspired to strengthen this Oblate community. Let us all converge in the Bethlehem of Turkmenistan to be surprised by God, who becomes a pilgrim to us when we embark on a pilgrimage, sowing hope and communion in the world.”