Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Now here's an angel...

Last Sunday, abundant snow and a fierce wind compelled me to walk along a pot-holed road rather than across the preferred fields. I arrived at the edge of a village, my mouth watering at the thought of hot tea that awaited me somewhere within the village boundaries. An oncoming car swerved toward me, the driver waving his arms for me to stop. Oooooo, caution... Stopping the car abruptly just beside me, the driver alighted and muttered unitelligibly, but then, composing himself (and in a rather dashing long wool cape), said 'Holy Mass. Now. Village house.'

It was coincidence that this Roman Catholic priest, Polish by nationality; Russian in language, drove up just as I was walking by the house where he was coming to say Mass to an extended family of Armenians.  The RC priest I met two days before had given him the heads-up that an American pilgrim was walking through the area.  Good fortune for me, and the tasty brunch of Armenian food that was served afterwards was not the least of it - a small respite from the ubiquitous borscht.

But it's the priest I want to bring attention to... Father Viacheslav.  He's an energetic visionary who's not only got grand dreams for his parish, but has done quite a bit already toward the construction of a RC church and ecumenical family center in the town of Yuzhny, not far from Odessa.  Yuzhny is one of the numerous 'model cities' designed and built in the 1980s as perfectly balanced communities, though conspicuously lacking churches of any denomination.  Father Viacheslav has taken good care of me for many days now, arranging with other priests and nuns in the extended area for places to sleep.  He even arranged for a TV station to cover my arrival into Yuzhny - Winter Pilgrim in our Town, which draws positive press for the benefits of pilgrim life.  Beyond that, he's been helpful in discussions with the Romanian and Moldovan consulates about entry options - I'm not sure we've got all of the kinks worked out, but that's likely the subject of a future blog.

Take a moment to visit his grassroots website and direct its attention to appropriate charitable organizations you might know.  This guy's the real deal and is tireless in his efforts to help the people of Ukraine.


Compostelle 2008 said...

Like on the Camino, people know who the pilgrims are that are coming. What wonderful experiences you are having with all the people you are meeting!

Michèle (Ottawa) Canada

Anonymous said...

I so look forward to your posts, and get a little anxious when the spaces between get too long! Thank you so very much for sharing this marvelous journey with the desk chair bound office workers out there! You totally make my day!

God bless and keep posting, Karin

LDahl said...

The people you are meeting do sound like angels, maybe you only remark on the kind ones... I only remember one that sounded less than hospitable. I am so looking forward to your next week or so.