12/19/2017, 16.05
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Ashgabat’s Catholic community prepares for a 'bright' Christmas

The young have set up the lights and the nativity scene. St Nick has brought gifts for the children. The latter will be take part in a nativity play. Some families will celebrate Christmas ecumenically a second time in accordance with the Orthodox calendar, on 6 and 7 January.

Ashgabat (AsiaNews) – Turkmenistan’s small Catholic community will celebrate Christmas with a lot of lights and in communion with other Christians in the Central Asian Republic.

"Our capital, Ashgabat, is already full of lights", said Fr Andrzej Madej, a Polish Oblate priest, superior of the missio sui juris to Turkmenistan. "As you know, Asia loves light: ex orient lux!"

"Our young people have prepared the nativity scene – big and beautiful as ever, with many angels,” Fr Madej noted. “They always take care to lit the church. Let us hope that we can see it from the street as well. In front of our house (and church, which are in the same building), there are big bright stars.”

"The other day, St Nick came to us with presents for the children. We had over ninety gifts, and were afraid there may not have been enough for everyone. Fortunately, there were enough."

At the end of the Christmas octave, the children will put on a play. "Every year, this artistic representation moves us".

"Fr Diego, Oblate, came to us for five days,” the priest added, “to help our spiritual preparation and to confess worshippers before Christmas".

"On 24 December, at 6 pm, the dinner before Christmas will be held with our community of Oblates of Mary Immaculate. There are eight on the guest list, but it is not yet complete. We will celebrate Mass at 10 pm, and after the Eucharist there will be a banquet, songs and dances . . .".

Later, the Christmas octave will proceed with nightly Masses.

Christmas festivities will also be a time of ecumenism. "Some of our families will celebrate a second time, on 6 and 7 January, with Eastern, Orthodox Christians. We celebrate ecumenically!"

The Catholic community in Turkmenistan numbers around 200 people out of a population of 5.6 million, and has three priests.

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