The Conventual Franciscan Provincial Delegation in Uzbekistan celebrated the 30th anniversary of its foundation as a mission.
On October 3-8, 2021, six friars of the Delegation went on their annual spiritual retreat to a villa on Lake Charvak in the Tien Shan Mountains, in preparation for the anniversary celebration. The retreat was led by Friar Dariusz MAZUREK, the General Delegate for Missionary Animation. In his reflections, Friar Dariusz addressed the topics of Franciscan spiritual life and missionary vocation. The friars took part in the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. They also had an opportunity to visit the surrounding mountains and lake area and meditate silently on the Word of God. The friars all thanked Friar Dariusz for this beautiful retreat, which gave them new strength to proclaim the Gospel in this country.
At the end of the retreat, the friars went to Tashkent. On the same day, Friar Marian GOŁĄB, the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Anthony and Bl. James of Strepar in Poland (Cracow), and Friar Tomáš LESŇÁK, the Assistant General for the FEMO Federation, also arrived in Tashkent to begin a visitation to the Delegation’s friaries in Tashkent, Bukhara and Fergana, and to its parishes in Tashkent, Fergana, Bukhara, Samarkand and Urgench. They also wanted to evaluate the progress of the work underway to open a new parish in Angren. The main objective of their visit was to learn more about the activities of the mission, the work of the friars, and to make plans for the future.
On October 14-15, the friars of the Delegation met with their guests, including the Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI. The friars studied the current status of the Delegation and made efforts to find solutions for the future. Due to some personnel problems, two of the friaries have only two friars. The Minister Provincial stressed that the Province of Cracow is not leaving its work in Uzbekistan, but is asking the general government to invite friars from other Jurisdictions. The Minister General, in turn, thanked everyone for the great work that has been done in Uzbekistan and promised to take a special interest in this mission, knowing how difficult it has been.
On October 15, the Most Reverend Jerzy MACULEWICZ, O.F.M. Conv., Apostolic Administrator of Uzbekistan presided over a solemn Mass of thanksgiving at the church in Tashkent. The participants gave thanks for the friars’ thirty years of service in Uzbekistan and for all the good they have been able to do in this country with the help of God’s grace.
In 1246, Friars John of Pian de Carpine and Benedict of Poland were the first Franciscans to arrive in Uzbekistan. They had been sent on a diplomatic mission by Pope Innocent IV. In the 14th century, there were Franciscans living in western Uzbekistan; a diocese had been established and the bishop was a Franciscan.
The modern history of the mission began on October 11, 1991, when Friar Krzysztof KUKUŁKA, from the Province of Cracow, arrived in Uzbekistan. Friar Krzysztof was entrusted with the pastoral care of the two parishes existing at that time in Tashkent and Fergana. The Order was then asked to rebuild the church in Tashkent, the ruins of which had been returned to the Catholic Church. The church in Tashkent was consecrated nine years later and is now the seat of the Apostolic Administrator in Uzbekistan and the Apostolic Nunciature. In 1997, the Holy See established the Missio sui iuris in Uzbekistan and entrusted our Order with the care of the mission. In 2005, St. John Paul II created the Apostolic Administration and appointed our confrere Friar Jerzy MACULEWICZ as its first bishop.
Over the course of the last thirty years, twenty-five friars from the Province of Cracow have served in the Delegation, together with three friars from other Jurisdictions, namely, Friar Ivan ROHLOFF from the USA, Friar Thomas BAHN from South Korea and Friar Francesco FALDANI from Padua, Italy. Currently, the Delegation has seven friars living and working in three friaries. There are four priests and three religious brothers. Friar Siergiej FEDOROV is the Order’s first native friar from Uzbekistan. In 2012 he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop MACULEWICZ in Tashkent. The Delegation has two clerical students undertaking second-year philosophy studies at our seminary in Cracow and an aspirant who has begun his formation in Fergana.
Friar Stanisław ROCHOWIAK