After 14 years in Russia, the Brothers of Saint John left the priory of Nalchik in the diocese of Saint-Clément in Saratov in late August of this year. Since its foundation in 2005 by Fr Laurent, the Community had been on mission in this immense region, a land that was mostly Muslim and in which only very small Catholic communities existed.
During the farewell mass on 25 August, many local people praised the work undertaken by the Brothers, especially their inter-religious dialogue. “Fr Laurent opened up the Christian world to me, a Muslim. I have become convinced that we pray to the same God; we just pray to Him in different ways“, said a friend from the local community, Ibragim Yaganov. A local pastor, Sergueï, then had these words to share: “Yes, I have remained a Baptist, but Fr Laurent’s life, his ministry and the way in which he treated people changed the way I viewed Catholics“.
Mgr Clemens Pickel, ordinary of the diocese, sent a letter to the Brothers, thanking them for their “accessible witness” and their fidelity to the “small flock of Catholics in the south of European Russia“.
The mission will now be taken over by Fr Raoul, an Argentinian priest, who has become the parish priest for the parishes of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkarie.