Easter in Uzbekistan: newly baptized and a vigil in four languages
Msgr. Jerzy Maculewicz describes the Easter celebrations of Tashkent Catholics. Adults and children were baptized. National television stations broadcast the ceremony. The story of a woman over age 60, who converted when she fled the civil war in Uzbekistan. "She saw around her only death and turned to God".
Tashkent (AsiaNews) - When "we believe in God and trust in Him, even if we are in a situation with no way out, like when the people of Israel were in front of the waters of the Red Sea, God hears the cry for help of His people. God hears the cry and opens the way. If we believe in Him, He will also open our way and save us as he saved the people of Israel". This was the message that Msgr. Jerzy Maculewicz, apostolic administrator of Uzbekistan's Catholic Church, gave the new believers baptized on Easter night in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Tashkent. The ceremony took place in 4 languages, according to the composition of the faithful.
Before the liturgy, which began at 8pm, the faithful brought eggs, meats and other foods to be blessed by the parish priest.
The Catholic Church of Uzbekistan began to flourish in the nineties, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the independence of the country. The Christian community is divided into five parishes, located in the major cities. The majority of the population, over 95%, is made up of Muslim faithful. Christians represent 2.3% of the inhabitants, of which 0.1% are Catholic. In Tashkent the community has about 400 faithful.
The Easter vigil drew the attention of four national television stations, who wanted to film the whole ceremony. "I have spoken to reporters and I sent a message of joy and peace to the entire population of Uzbekistan". The bishop said: "It is important that the TV channels aired our liturgy, because in this way the country has learned that Catholics celebrate Easter".
Later the real celebration began, which lasted for over four hours. "This ceremony is very long - he explains - because of the readings in the four languages representative of our community: Russian, English, Korean and Polish". It must be said that there is still no liturgical book in the Uzbek language. Although the Mass was long, "no one was tired. Indeed, at the end of the liturgy some of the faithful stayed to exchange greetings".
The apostolic administrator reports that two groups of believers were baptized: during the vigil 12 adults between 15 and 65 years of age; On Sunday morning another children's group. He says: "It was a beautiful moment, while we felt that the risen Jesus was with us, in our midst. I told the new Catholics: 'For you today a new life begins, you receive new pure hearts. You can start a good life. Of course, it will not be without problems, but God will be with you".
In particular, the bishop tells the story of a lady of 60 "who was very emotional before her baptism and cried. Then the next day she came to me to tell me that she was really happy, that the ceremony of her entry into the Christian community had been the best thing that had ever happened in her life. " "An adult convert – he continued - marked by a deeply painful episode”.
Msgr. Maculewicz tells that the lady had no religious affiliation, but decided to become a Christian as she fled from her country of origin, Kyrgyzstan, at the outbreak of civil war after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. "While the soldiers were firing on her group, killing some of her friends, she turned to the Lord and vowed to become Catholic if he saved her life. So it was, and after a long process of education, she is now overjoyed at having become part of the Christian community".