From Albania: “Change means opening up”

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Lent is a time of change, and in our Interprovincial Mission of Albania, there have been some new developments at the beginning of the time of preparation for Easter.

On Sunday, February 28, Fr. Andrzej Michon began his ministry as pastor of the Parish of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori in Kamëz. The Sunday Eucharist was presided over by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Tirana-Durrës, Msgr. George Frendo OP, who reminded the faithful that the presence of the Redemptorist Missionaries in the periphery of the capital of the country is a great gift. He also highlighted the figure of our Father and Founder, St. Alphonsus, since he is the titular of the parish, whose territory includes the city of Kamëz, with the parish church, the city of Fushë-Krujë, and the nearby villages, where the Church of Luz and the contemplative Monastery of St. Joseph are located. Fr. Andrzej is the pastor of some 21,000 Catholics, in addition to three communities of religious sisters. This mission was entrusted to the Redemptorists in 2014, and the parish church was consecrated in 2017 and was dedicated to St. Alphonsus. Fr. Andrzej was previously the pastor of St. John Paul II Parish in Bathore, so he is no stranger to pastoral work in the diocese.

On Ash Wednesday, moreover, Mission Albania was beginning a new presence in the country. In 2018, the Redemptorist Missionaries celebrated their first popular mission in the country in the city of Gjirokastër. On that occasion, the bishop of that apostolic administration expressed his joy for the presence of missionaries in that area, since the number of Catholics is very small. Moreover, Gjirokastër has never had a permanent priest and therefore, the Catholic community feels a great desire to celebrate the sacraments. Responding to the desire of the interprovincial Redemptorist community to continue opening ways for the Evangelization and with the welcome of the bishop administrator, Fr. Laureano has begun an itinerant presence in that city, which is precisely the cradle of the communist dictator who persecuted the Catholic Church.

Although the community, for the moment, has only two confreres, the plans for the future are always to open, not to close; to create, not to conserve. The Spirit of the Lord always urges us to be witnesses of the Redeemer, especially where the Word of salvation has not yet been heard.

Fr. Laureano Del Otero Sevillano CSSR

Interprovincial Mission of Albania

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