|Azerbaijan – Finding new apostles for a growing Church|
|Azerbaijan – Extraordinary Visitation by the Councillor for North Europe|
(ANS – Baku) – In the occasion of the X anniversary of the visit by John Paul II to Azerbaijan, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples visited the Salesian community of Baku, also the Prefecture Apostolic of the country. He gave great encouragement to the Catholic pioneers in the country.
The Cardinal began his visit on Sunday morning, 10 June, with a Mass in the church of the Immaculate Conception. In his homily he recalled that “this small local church featured large in the heart of John Paul II” who in spite of his health not being too good, in 2002 insisted on visiting the small local community and supporting it in its faith.
Speaking to the faithful he said: “You are Church in the fullest sense of the word, an assembly of believers, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, enlightened by the Word of Christ, nourished by the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and called to carry the light of the Gospel of Christ to everyone and to be a sign of His constant presence.” He also warmly thanked the Salesian community for its work over 10 years on behalf of the small Azerian flock.
After Mass a plaque commemorating the 10th anniversary of the visit of Pope John Paul II was blessed, an exhibition on the visit of the Polish Pontiff opened and a new Pastoral Centre for the Prefecture Apostolic inaugurated. Among those present including Fr Vladimir Fekete SDB the Prefect Apostolic and Rector of the community were various civil and religious authorities and a number of Ambassadors.
The following day 11 June was devoted to meetings with the civil and religious authorities. After having expressed his own appreciation for the atmosphere of religious tolerance in the country to the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and to the Head of the Department of State for Religious Works and Organisations, Cardinal Filoni visited the house of the Sisters, Missionaries of Charity, their work for the sick and the abandoned and the Meryam Salesian school, the first Salesian house in the country. He also called on the Muslim Sheik Allahshukur Pashazadeh, the Orthodox Bishop Aleksandr and the representative of the Jewish community.
The Cardinal encouraged the Catholics in Baku in their prayers for vocations, pastoral care of the families, an apostolic spirit not only among the priests and religious but also among the laity and to continue to promote evangelisation and the growth of the people of God.