03/25/2008, 00.00
KYRGYZSTAN
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Vandals attack church on Good Friday

by Maria Anikina
The Blessed Teresa of Kolkata Church in Dzhalal-Abad has its windows broken and its notices torn down during Holy Triduum. Never the less, the local community still celebrates Easter in a young Church with few priests for the whole country.

Bishkek (AsiaNews) – On Good Friday a gang of vandals attacked and devastated the Blessed Teresa of Kolkata Church in Dzhalal-Abad, the second largest city in southern Kyrgyzstan and third in the country. Fr Krzysztof Korolchuk, a Jesuit and the local parish priest, said that they threw stones and broke the windows and tore off the notices of worship. Police is now investigating the incident.

Despite the attack celebrations went ahead anyway the next day, Easter Saturday.

Nina Shabel, a 55-year-old ethnic German woman whose ancestors were forcibly resettled to Kyrgyzstan under Stalin, was baptised.

After the service believers gathered for the traditional Easter lamb meal.

On Easter Sunday, Fr Krzysztof Korolchuk held the Holy Mass in Osh, a town located in 100 km from Dzhelal-Abad.

In Kyrgyzstan there are about six Jesuit and two diocesan priests aided by Franciscan nuns serving the country’s three Catholic parishes and its 30-odd communities spread around the country.

On 18 March 2006 Pope Benedict XVI elevated the Church in this nation to the status of Apostolic Administration, appointing Jesuit Fr Nikolaus Messmer as bishop-administrator. Previously he had headed the St. Archangel Michael Parish Church, the country’s only Catholic church.

Kyrgyzstan has a population of five million, 75 per cent of whom are Muslim and 20 per cent, Orthodox. Catholics are around a thousand.

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