The Catholic archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow serves a vast area of well over 1 million square miles in which Catholics make up only a tiny minority among the population of 59 million people. In the big cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg and in some of the other larger towns and cities there are some very active and lively Catholic communities, but in many places, the Catholic faithful live scattered and isolated in the small villages and towns of the rural areas.
Within the diocese, there are 69 religious sisters belonging to 20 different congregations, who take on a wide range of important duties in the parishes. For example running children‘s and youth groups, giving catechetical instruction, preparing the faithful for reception of the sacraments, visiting the sick and bringing them Holy Communion – often in the small and remote villages – caring for the elderly and the homeless, and supporting the families with advice and practical help. For example, the Polish Dominican Sisters of Jesus and Mary, who work in the Catholic parish of Orjol. Their youth apostolate is particularly popular, and many young people take part in their community worship, spiritual talks, retreat days, social gatherings, and other leisure activities. For many of them, this shared experience and shared life of faith leaves a deep and lasting impression.
For example, Valeriana, one of the young people, writes: „I had a lot of physical and spiritual suffering in my life. I felt hurt and bitter that God had given me this cross to bear. But during our spiritual retreat, I sensed the reality of His love. Everything began to make sense and I understood that in suffering the loss of material values, I gained spiritual ones, which are far more important. I understood that we need to bear our cross with love and to love one another, to be merciful, and strive to do God‘s will, even when this demands sacrifices of us. My heart was moved by this understanding and I could see the goal and meaning of life.“