Lazarists in Russia

Jesuit Joseph Spilmann in his «Travel through Asia» (Durch Asien, 1896) wrote about the first possible lazarist in Russia who was a Pole. This young lazarist, as well as other Polish rebels, was exiled to the lake Baikal region. Nothing more is known about him or any of his friends. (Maybe, one can find some information about it in Polish archives).

After communism falling in Soviet Union the basic structures of Catholic Church in Russia were formed and two bishops were appointed: one appeared in Moscow for the European part of Russia and the other was in Novosibirsk for the Asian part of the country.

Jesuit bishop Joseph Vert became the apostolic administrator in Novosibirsk. Soon he addressed to bishops in Europe and to priors of various orders with a request to send priests and monks for his extensive diocese which stretched from the Ural Mountains to the Sea of Japan. Thus, the general superior of the Missionary society decided to send brothers to Siberia. The first of them, the Irish brother Paul Roch, arrived in Russia in 1995 to look for a place to start the missionary work. Then, in August of the same year, the general assistant Italo Zedde accompanied by the Polish visitator Holubiski Karol visited the bishop in Novosibirsk. After that the Chief Rector of Missionary congregation wrote a letter recommending brethren to respond to missionary work in Siberia. Tomaz Mavric (Slovenia), Matej Kuchak and Kshishtof Varian (Poland) were chosen to work in Russia. The bishop chose Nizhniy Tagil in the northern part of the Ural Mountains as the centre of the work. Our two brothers (Mavric Т and M. Kuchak) arrived to Nizhniy Tagil on the 12 th of August, 1997 to live in a Catholic family. Tomaz Mavric became the pastor of the newly-built house.

A year later the brothers bought an apartment in a block of flats in the eastern part of the city in district “Vagonka”. On May, 13th, 1997 (the day of Our Lady of Fatima) the charitable organization “Renovabis” constructed a church and it was also devoted to this secret. Bishop J. Vert appointed Tomaz Mavric the pastor of the parish of Our Lady of Fatima in Nizhniy Tagil. Thirteen months later after the first arrival the third lazarist Krishtof Varian joined them. Next month, on the 10th of October, 1998, a lazarist from Slovenia, Lojze Letonja, who had been the missioner in Madagascar for thirteen years, came here. By the end of April, 1999 Lojze Letonja had stayed in Novosibirsk, where he lived in the house of the bishop and studied Russian.

At the Easter time of 1999 two brothers – Krishtof Varian and Lojze Letonja settled in Severouralsk, and the bishop J. Vert organized two new parishes in Severouralsk and Krasnoturyinsk. The brothers bought apartment in a block of flats in Severouralsk now they could gather the faithfuls in the hall of the house of Culture or in the apartment of one of Catholics on Sundays. One year later they bought two apartments in the inhabited block of flats in Severouralsk, and in Krasnoturyinsk where Catholics could gather for a liturgy. During his pastoral visit the bishop J. Vert blest the new chapel in Severouralsk in honour of St. Barbara, the patroness of miners, and the chapel in Krasnoturyinsk was blessed in honour of St. Vincent dе Paul on May, 20 th, 2001.

On the 18 th of April, 2000 three sisters of Mercy from Slovakia came to Nizhniy Tagil. Now they are engaged in charities: visit sick people, take care of neglected children, communicate with the youth and take part in liturgy.

On the 1 st of January, 2001 the new vice-province of St. Cyril’s and Methodija appeared in Kiev, in Ukraine and Paul Roach from the Irish province became its vice-visitator. Brothers from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine belong to this vice-province.

As it has its own institutions and administration, the vice-visitator appointed the pastor of Nizhni Tagil, Tomazh Mavrich, the director of novitiate. He had to go to Ireland for one year to prepare for this work that he should begin in September, 2002. The second brother, Mathew К , was sent to Kharkov in Ukraine in November, 2001. Thus, the brother Letonja Lojze moved to Nizhni Tagil and became the pastor of the parish and the community.

On November, 13 th, 2001 Anton Ovtar (Slovenia) who had been the priest in Toronto, Canada came to work here as the assistant to the pastor. Krishtof Varian served in the north, in Severouralsk and Krasnoturyinsk he was a member of the house in Nizhni Tagil as well.

In 2003 Krishtof Varian left for Germany to work there and Robert took his place.

In July, 2008 Lojze Letonja moved to Europe and Anatoly Tovkan (Ukraine, Zakrpatie) replaced him in October, 2008.

On September, 13th, 2009 Paul Rouch returned to the Urals and Tomazh Mavrich became the vice-visitator. Anatoly Tovkan was directed to Kiev to work with seminarians.

In September 2010, Adam Stroczynski(Poland) came to help us.

On mart of 3rd 2011, s. Miriam Juskova (Slovakia) came to help our sisters. Sisters opened a new house in Omsk around the Pasha. Ss. Mihaela Dubenova and Antonia Lednicka mouved there; a new sister, Denisa, came from Slovakia to help them.