“We will bow to no regime that refuses to bow to God.” In 1951, just a few hours after uttering these words to the Catholic faithful in Prague‘s St. Vitus Cathedral, Archbishop Josef Beran of Prague was abducted by the secret police and interned for the next 16 years. Thousands of priests and religious in what was then Czechoslovakia shared a similar fate and suffered in prisons and labor camps.
Thanks in large degree to the heroic efforts of Saint John Paul II, the Berlin Wall came down and Communism no longer rules Eastern Europe. Yet, even today many Churches in the former Soviet territory need our vital pastoral and humanitarian support.
This ongoing need is mostly in Ukraine (home today to almost 5 million Ukrainian Greek-Catholics), where the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church was outlawed and virtually eradicated by Communist authorities, along with the Catholic Churches of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia.
Thank you for your support in helping this region keep the faith alive.
This pilgrimage will strengthen these young Russian Catholics in their faith and give them the opportunity to meet and pray together with thousands of other pilgrims from all over the world. It will be an experience that will remain with them throughout their lives.
The Diocese of Nikopol in northern Bulgaria has only some 30,000 Catholics out of a population of almost 3 million. While there are 20 parishes in the diocese, not every parish has its own priest due to a general shortage of priests.
In all this unimaginably vast territory there are just 50 priests or so ministering to a widely scattered population of 50,000 or so Catholic faithful. Often these are no more than tiny communities, in some cases just a single Catholic family, with the next nearest Catholic community hundreds if not thousands of miles away.