Support for the life and ministry of the 56 religious sisters of the diocese of Saint Joseph in Irkutsk
With a total area of almost 3.9 million square miles (10 million km²) the diocese of Saint Joseph, based in Irkutsk in East Siberia, is larger than the entire United States. Scattered across this vast area there are no more than around 52,000 Catholics, ministered to by a mere 40 priests from the diocese.
The religious sisters perform many works of charity among the people
In this context an indispensable contribution is made by the 56 religious sisters, belonging to 12 different congregations, who work in the parishes and additionally perform so many works of charity among the people. Their work is a blessing above all for the children from broken homes, for the isolated elderly and sick people and for the many street children and homeless people.
In Vladivostok, for example, the Sisters of Mercy of Saint Anne have established a support programme for young single mothers. Given the alarmingly high rate of abortions in Russia, their work is a vital contribution to helping young mothers choose life for their children.
In Chita the diocese has set up a centre for street children and homeless people, run by the sisters of the congregation of the Handmaids of the Immaculate Conception. Many of the children actually live in the centre, while others merely come on a daytime basis. The sisters also regularly visit the children in a children‘s home some 40 miles (70 km) away and care for mothers and babies in prison, who desperately need both material and pastoral support. And a few years ago, in the town of Angark, the sisters opened another home, where they also care for street children.
In a similar way, the sisters of the other congregations also care for all those in need. As for ACN, we help all 56 religious from these various different congregations working in the Diocese of Saint Joseph in Irkutsk with a regular contribution towards their basic support. This year we are proposing to give a total of 28,000 Euros.