Posted by: Fr Chris | August 7, 2011

Perseverance Pays Off

The month of July 2011 marked the 100th issue of  a humble parish newsletter, Vladivostok Sunrise.  This issue surveys the tumultuous but successful work of reopening the Cathedral of the Holy Mother of God in Vladivostok. This city is Russia’s furthest eastern port that is ice-free, and after the Bolshevik conquest in 1922 the cathedral parishioners embarked on a sorrowful journey.  The bishop died in exile outside of  his beloved city in 1933, the parish priest was lost to the gulag in the 1940s, and a number of parishioners were executed for the terrible crime of meeting in a private flat to recite the Rosary and discuss the Catholic Faith; the KGB accused them of spying for Poland, Japan and the Vatican.

In November of 1991, American missionary Myron Effing offered his first Mass in the city, in front of the locked doors of the cathedral, attended by a few converts and some of the children of those parishioners who were persecuted back in the 1930s. The city was closed to foreigners as it was the base of the Pacific Fleet, and it had no working churches left of any faith – most had been blown up or ,like the cathedral,  put to other uses.

Against all odds, the parish not only grew but established,  and even reopened, other parishes in the Russian Far East. The two priests, Fathers Myron Effing and Dan Mauer, established a religious order, the Canons of the Holy Cross, to serve in Russia and have founded a network of pro-life centers to help pregnant women, youth groups for students, help for street children, and slowly restored the cathedral to its full status as a place of worship.

First Holy Communion, 1922-23, with Bishop Karol Sliwowsky.  This photograph had to be hidden inside the bottom of a trunk – it was too dangerous to display it in the home!  Some of these children lived to welcome the American priests.

Go to the parish’s history page and you will be inspired to re-commit yourself to the Catholic Faith. And consider donating to them – the economic crisis is clobbering the Russian Far East and many parishioners are moving to central Russia for work. Their pro-life work alone is a heroic mission, let alone all the rest. Check them out at . Please pass this around the net, and thanks. God bless you and yours.

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