Support for Pastoral Travel Costs in Russia

Success Story

The Diocese of Saint Clement in southern Russia has its seat in Saratov and serves a huge territory of over 540,000 square miles, an area close to twice the size of Texas. Yet there are just 21,000 Catholics living scattered across this vast area, and just 43 Catholic priests to minister to them. In many places there is often no more than a tiny community, occasionally even only a single Catholic family, with the next nearest Catholics living hundreds of miles away. It goes without saying that it is not possible to build churches wherever such micro-communities exist, and even if it were possible, there would still be too few priests to minister to them all.Success Story

In order to reach these scattered Catholic communities, the priests often have to travel long distances. But this is fundamental to the survival of the Catholic Church in the area, since without a priest the faithful cannot receive the sacraments and there is always the danger that the people will lose their sense of inner connection with the Church and their faith might then wither away. This would be the beginning of a vicious spiral, since when the faith starts to weaken, then there will be no spiritual vocations and thus there will be still fewer priests to minister to the people, thereby further weakening the faith and still further impoverishing the soil of future native vocations. It is still the case today that most of the priests of the diocese are from abroad.

On a practical level, such vast distances lead to heavy fuel costs. Yet if the priests are unable to make these journeys because they cannot afford gas, then still more faithful will be deprived of the grace of Holy Mass and Communion and the opportunity to baptize their children or celebrate Christian weddings. And these are people who already suffer on a daily basis from the sense of isolation and separation from their brothers and sisters in the Faith.

The local church is poor, and the priests are dependent on outside support to enable them to visit and encourage their scattered flock. Thanks to the generosity of your benefactors, ACN is able to provide this crucial support, and this year we gave $20,300 to subsidize the cost of the pastoral travel of the priests of the Diocese of Saint Clement. We are sure they will remember you in their grateful prayers.

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