03/28/2013, 00.00
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Easter among Christians of Anatolia for three years without a bishop

by Giambattista Farhad
Throughout the Vicariate of Anatolia preparations are underway for Holy Week almost three years after the death of Msgr. Padovese. On April 2 in Urgup a Mass for Iraqi, Afghan and Iranian Christians spread throughout Cappadocia. Two baptisms in the small community. Because of the distances masses are only at Christmas, Easter and the Assumption.

Ürgüp (AsiaNews) - Almost three years after the tragic murder of Msgr. Luigi Padovese, bishop of Iskenderun, who was killed June 3, 2010, the small Christian community of Anatolia (Turkey) is still waiting for the appointment of a new pastor. Despite having encountered "dark days," this "little flock" continues to follow the Lord and on March 24 celebrated Palm Sunday with great enthusiasm while throughout the Vicariate the faithful are getting ready for Easter. In the parishes of Trabzon, Adana, Mersin and Iskenderun the faithful are preparing for Holy Week with confessions and prayers. The Catholic communities of southern Anatolia celebrate Easter together with the Syrian faithful who are in their cities.

The person in charge of the Vicariate's refugee services has organized an Easter Mass for April 2 for Iraqi, Iranian and Afghan Christians scattered throughout the region of Cappadocia. They expect more than 150 faithful to attend the liturgy that will be held in Urgup. This year two Iraqi children will receive baptism, confirming that the people of God is growing despite being in the "desert" before seeing the "Promised Land"! Fr. Samer, an Iraqi priest currently studying in Rome will officiate the Mass. Like Christmas the liturgy will be followed by a shared lunch together and the gift of a food package for each family with a final appointment for the next liturgy to be held in August on the occasion of the Feast of the Assumption.

Because of the great distances, economic hardships and scarcity of priests only three Masses are held for Eastern Rite Catholics living in Cappadocia. In the area there are no priests who speak Arabic or Aramaic, the Catholics have no means of transport. The nearest community is 12 km from Urgup - where there is the only church in the area - the farthest over 95. In these special occasions, which occur only at Christmas, Easter and the Assumption, the parish organizes a bus service at his own expense to transport people from the villages to the church. In total, lodgings, the bus service and aid to families will cost more than 3 thousand euro, which our little community is forced to raise through asking for charity. When we have money, we distribute good food to 60 families. Donations are needed to treat eight sick members of the community who are on their own, five families who have lost their parents and 19 school pupils to maintain.

Dear friends, I ask you a favor! The Holy Father in one of the first speeches said that "the Church must help the poor," the Church is me and every one of you. I would be so very grateful for any help you can give to these your brothers! We do not have the support of Caritas or any other organization. We trust only in providence. If you want to make a Lenten offering or know of a generous person who wants to give spiritual and material help to these brethren, please contact us.


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