With support from Missio’s children’s branch – Mission Together – children and young people in Kazakhstan are exploring their faith and building a vibrant Church for the future.
It is that time of year again – schools across the UK are preparing to rejoice, whilst parents and carers are bracing themselves to grab the last bit of tinsel or tea towel for nativity play costumes.
So imagine living in a community where many people have never heard the Christmas story, or had the chance to celebrate Christ’s birth.
This is the experience of many families in Kazakhstan, where Catholics make up just 1% of the population.
A first encounter with Christ
During Advent in 2021, special activities and events were funded by Mission Together to help the children of Atyrau Diocese prepare for Christmas. And our support also helped spread the Christmas message further afield. Our Church partners share:
‘Thanks to your support, it was possible to prepare the feast of the Nativity. The youth of our parish invited children from different families, who participated in this feast for the first time in their lives. Some performed in the Nativity play. Others helped prepare the scenery. For many children, this was their first meeting with the Catholic Church’.
Nurturing the next generation
Missio supports the Church wherever it needs help to sustain itself and grow. Simply finding space to come together in faith is often a challenge for minority communities.
With our support, Atyrau Diocese provides regular opportunities for children to learn about the Holy Mass and explore the challenge to find their personal mission. The Parish Centre also offers music lessons and social events, to bring children together in faith.
Witnessing through welcome
This year, Mission Together also helped fund a project to support children with special needs, such as Down Syndrome and autism. Parishes jointly supported children and their families through the Atyrau Parish Centre.
The Centre provides motor skills development, help with preparing for school, and equipment and educational supplies. This help is offered to all children who need it, regardless of faith background or religious beliefs. Atyrau Parish Priest, Fr Peter Nakacka, shares:
‘Non-Christian children attend some classes. And through friendships with Catholics, they may become interested in the Catholic faith. The Parish Centre is strengthening the faith of Christian families in the mostly non-Christian surroundings and is used as the local cultural centre as well’.
Urusk Parish Priest, Fr Lukasz Niemiec, shares:
‘The Catholic Church always emphasises the meaning of every life: it is holy because it comes from God. Thanks to the activities of the Centre, these are not only words, but deeds in our parish’.
Mission Together funding helps make this outreach possible. Fr Peter explained:
‘We want to express our gratitude to Missio, and especially Mission Together in England and Wales, for the financial and spiritual help to grow the faith in our small and young Church. We remember all the benefactors in our prayers. May God become the reward of all of you!’