Uzbek City Gets Its First Church, With Help of Muslims

Signatures Helped Land Urganch a Catholic Parish Facility

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, APRIL 2, 2003 (ZENIT.orgFides).- After years of attending Mass in private homes, the 35 Catholics of a remote area of Uzbekistan are preparing to celebrate this Easter Vigil in a real church.

Father Stanislaw Rochowiak, 35, a Conventual Franciscan of Polish nationality, confirmed that very soon a building will be turned into the parish church of Our Lady of Charity.

The premises will include a chapel, rooms for pastoral endeavors and catechesis, and the parish priest’s residence.

This will be the first and only Christian church in the city of Urganch, in the region of Khorezm, 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) west of the capital, Tashkent.

According to Uzbek law, the recognition of a sacred building requires at least 100 signatures of adult citizens. Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic, became independent in 1991.

The success of this initiative is due to a Catholic laywoman named Lydia, 50, who carried out a door-to-door campaign to collect the necessary signatures. Eventually, she obtained 150, including the names of many Muslims, who agreed that Christian should have a place of worship.

Lydia traveled from Urganch to Tashkent to request Father Krzystof Kukulca, superior of Uzbekistan’s mission «sui iuris» (of its own right), to send a priest to the Khorezm region.

Uzbekistan is a country of about 25 million. Muslims make up 76.5% of the population, Christians 1.7%. There are 40,000 Catholics. The Catholic Church recently established three parishes and three mission stations.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation