Kazakhstan Catholics Get a New Home

ATYRAU, Kazakhstan, DEC. 5, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A new church and pastoral center recently opened here can seat every Catholic in west Kazakhstan.

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«I would like to thank all those who helped us in this undertaking, particularly, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples,» the apostolic administrator in Atyrau, Father Janusz Kaleta, told the Fides agency.

The church was built in the wake of the Vatican’s decision in August 1999 to make Atyrau the seat of the apostolic administration for west Kazakhstan.

«Over the last few years, oil exploitation has boomed in the region,» Father Kaleta said. «The apostolic administration building is in an area where the people have never seen a Catholic church or a Catholic priest before.»

«About 90% of the city’s population are Kazakh Muslims,» he added. «Nevertheless, we managed in a relatively short time to organize a parish.»

Once the apostolic administration had been officially registered it was possible to obtain permits to buy land and start building. The plans were drawn up in Poland.

The church can seat about 180. There are about 160 Catholics in the Apostolic Administration of Atyrau, out of 2.67 million residents.

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