Dear Father Greg,
Warmest of greetings to you from Kyrgyzstan.
Your email touched me deeply and your words of support and, especially your prayers and those of the parishioners at St. Andrew's, encourage me more than you can know. Thank you!
As I mentioned to you at one point, this new assignment can seem terrifying and overwhelming if I focus on the challenges -which are many and deeply complicated. However, when I visit the little Catholic communities, especially in the villages--and spend time with this "anawim," I think: "Wow. This is to good to be true! Being able to be pastor alongside these Christians...". These people--and many of their Muslim neighbors, whom I have also come to know over the past twenty years from frequent visits to our missions--really seized my imagination and heart a long time ago.
These days, during the Octave of All Souls, are very intense as we visit the graves of the family members of the parishioners. The Volga Germans are very consoled by this tradition, as are most Russians. I think of how in Russia some of the atheist workers (with whom we sometimes had difficult relations) would come with the names of their deceased family members during these days so that we might pray for them and place their names in the basket on the altar with the names of Christian deceased. Next week, I will travel across the border of Kazakhstan to replace the cross of a former pastor to our Catholics during the Soviet era. (Fr. Kheller the last living priest from the German diocese in the Volga Region, was released from the labor camps after Stalin's death and served in this area until his death. Many of our grandmothers were baptized by him).
And your generous offer to help support the church here is wonderful. We can speak about twinning, perhaps with one of our little parishes. Please think about this.
I shall look very forward to our next opportunity to meet!
Until then, we meet in Christ!