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s2smodern

On Sunday, January 15, Moscow Archbishop Paolo Pezzi visited the Anglophone Catholic community in St. Louis Church, in the center of Moscow, next to the long-term KGB headquarters at Lubyanka. He came to confer the sacrament of Confirmation on seven adults, two male college students from Nigeria and four female Overseas Filipino Workers. Besides, according to the Filipino tradition, he celebrated the Sinulog or Santo Niño (Holy Childhood of Jesus) on the third Sunday of January, together with the community.

A changing public

More than ten years ago, the Moscow Jesuits assumed the responsibility to celebrate the 9 a. m. Mass in English. Since then, the provenience of the parishioners has changed significantly. Due to the political situation since 2014 and, even more so, since February 2022, but also due to the pandemic, the number of "expats" from North America and Western Europe has dropped to almost zero, whereas, since around 2015, the number of students from English-speaking countries in Africa and Asia and the number of Filipinas who work as nannies, caregivers, and domestic helpers, has increased significantly. 

So, because they have less money and that it has become more difficult to travel, some things have changed. Unlike before 2020, the chaplains (Fr. Stephan Lipke, until recently, together with Fr. Victor Zhuk, and then Fr. Sebastián Prieto, assisted by Br. Vladimir Pashkov) have to visit sick parishioners or to officiate funerals, because people cannot go home when they get sick.

More sacraments

On the other hand, that people cannot go home also means there are more weddings and baptisms to celebrate!

Generally, in many ways, pastoral work among English-speaking migrant Catholics has become far more than just an additional task, it really means sharing life with people from all over the world, what the Universal Apostolic Preferences call "walking with the poor", literally.

On Santo Niño, together with the Confirmation, this certainly becomes clear in a special way. It is humbling to get in touch with the stories of those who could not receive the sacrament of Confirmation when in elementary or high school but now have taken their decision. Even more, it is a deep experience to celebrate, together with the whole community, that our great God has become a little child, that he is in those who are "small", maybe, sometimes weak. It is also both sad and meaningful to celebrate Jesus, the Child, with people (usually women) whose poverty has forced them to leave their children thousands of kilometers away. In this sense, Santo Niño is certainly a beautiful conclusion of the Christmas season.

And, obviously, in a special way we made use of this celebration to pray for peace.

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