Samarkand (Agenzia Fides) - Meeting the young Catholics of Central Asia, understanding their spiritual needs, giving them the proclamation of Christ: these are the objectives of the diocesan meeting of young people from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan which was held in Samarkand at the end of March, as Fr. Ariel Alvarez Toncovich, priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word and parish priest of the church of St. John the Baptist in the same Uzbek city reports.
"In recent months we have carried out a total restoration of the spaces in our parish, which involved the church, the football, basketball and volleyball fields and an area to host pilgrims.
The diocesan meeting for young people therefore represented the right opportunity to inaugurate these new environments: from March 21 to 24 we welcomed 46 young people, of whom 31 Uzbeks from the parishes of Tashkent, Bukhara, Fergana and Samarkand, and 15 Tajiks. This is very important for us, it is an opportunity to form the Catholics of the future and the Church we dream of for Central Asia".
This experience was more than positive: "We told the participants what it means to be a Catholic: the theme of the meeting was 'What does God want from the young people of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan?', in line with the objectives of the Synod meeting that Pope Francis is organizing. They asked very interesting questions: rather than talking, we priests listened to their spiritual and cultural needs, which are so many because the Central Asian church is a young church and, just like children who need food to grow up, the Catholics of these countries have need for human, spiritual and cultural food".
The meeting was the second of three events dedicated to young people during the year: the first was held at the beginning of January and the third will be a holiday camp during the summer, which will hopefully strengthen young people on their journey of faith and welcome new interested ones to know and experience Jesus Christ. Currently the small Uzbek Catholic community, made up of about 3,000 baptized, has throughout the country, 5 parishes: to the approximately 700 faithful of the capital Tashkent, there are others present in Samarkand, Bukhara, Urgench and Fergana. In Angren, where plans to build a new church, there are 25 faithful. In 2012 the first local priest was ordained, while two other Uzbeks are carrying out the path of the priesthood in the Franciscan seminary in Krakow. (LF-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 2/4/2022)