2nd March, 2000
by Fr. Phillip Andrews (from Douglas)
Once again I would like to apologise for the long delay in dropping a line and filling you in on events in Russia. 1999 was the busiest year yet and with so many things to do I was not even able to send a few Christmas cards.
My ministry is now spread out over 675 km's. ranging from the prisons to the City of Ulianovsk taking in the cities of Penza and Syzran as well. The prisons that 1 visit are all in one small area 450 km's south east of Moscow near a town called Zubovo Poljana. Of a total of 16 different prisons I visit 7 within which foreigners are serving sentences for a various range of offences against the Russian law. In all there are about 460 foreigners (excluding Catholics from Armenia or other parts of Russia) coming from over 50 different countries. Over two hundred are Catholics but the Chaplaincy of the Holy Family extends to helping and assisting all.
Thus, two times a month for three or four days I travel to this area and visit the prisons. saying Mass. hearing confessions administrating the sacrament of the sick. giving spiritual and psychological counselling and delivering various forms of humanitarian assistance. primarily medicines. Although these few days are so rewarding pastorally and spiritually. they are rather difficult with no proper place to sleep. no cooking facilities or place to wash. Before visiting 1 buy some groceries to bring with me. as there is not even a cafeteria in the area. I also carry some white spirit in my car to disinfect my hands after coining out of the prisons. Proper nourishment, rest and cleanliness are essential particularly because of the tuberculosis crisis in the Russian penitentiary system.
One of these prisons is a prison solely for foreigners and in this prison we are nearly finished building a church. Remaining are the windows and the doors as well as the benches and the altar. Hopefully in Mar or June the Bishop will come and consecrate it. In the prison there are religious activities on a daily basis. be it a Legion of Mary group. Rosary groups. a dedicated choir and a gospel-sharing group. The Chaplaincy also seeks to promote other cultural and educational activities by sponsoring the purchase of musical instruments and books. particularly for learning Russian.
Due to the lack of proper vitamins and nourishment the health of the prisoners suffers. The vast majority are very much alone, their families isolated in third world countries and unable to help. In Russia tuberculosis is rampant with about 10% of the prison population suffering from this terrible disease. Thus, visiting the sick and dying in hospital is a major priority. The director of the hospital prison has asked that we help to build a small inter-religious chapel within the hospital where several prisoners die every week.
In the last year six foreigners have died away from home and families, alone in a bleak place. In another prison not so far from the hospital. those who suffer from drug addiction and Aids are kept. So far I have only been allowed to visit these men only once at Christmas time. Here there were seven men who are HIV positive some with as many as eight more years to serve. Due to the low sanitary conditions the slightest cold or infection is fatal for these men. Although. the ministry to the prisoners is draining enough other problems make the visit to Mordovia even more difficult. Most of 1999 has been engaged in conflict with the authorities in one or two of the prisons and with the secret service. In one prison in particular I constantly voiced opposition to that prisoners were beaten and that they were not allowed to write letters in their own languages. This of course was an uncomfortable situation for those responsible and used to soviet ways. Thus. the doors were closed to visiting this prison for several months. Almost simultaneously, the secret service withdrew my permission to visit the prisons in late March pertaining that I was doing favours for the international drug Mafia. Only when I challenged their professionalism and pointed out their ignorance of Catholic pastoral care and missionary work were they embarrassed into renewing my permission. The problem was quite simple. the Russian mentality does not understand doing something for nothing. Thus, they took it for granted that the money I spent on prisoners' needs and the interest in re-establishing their contact with their families was Mafia initiated.
The work with the prisoners extends 260 km's east into the parish of the Immaculate Conception in Penza. In this small parish which really only began to function 6 months ago several of the parishioners help in the prison ministry. One lady. Ekaterina. helps with all juridical issues and advice, another lady Tamara who is a doctor has begun a small Caritas operation responsible for buying medicines for the sick prisoners.
continued next week ...
There is to be a Coffee Morning at St. Mary's Hall, Marmullane, Passage West on Sunday 11th March, 2000 from 10.30am to 12.30pm. All proceeds are in aid of Marymount Hospice and the morning will include a super raffle and various stalls. All are welcome and admission is £1 (including tea/coffee and scones).
All donations welcome.
The Asthma Society of Ireland are holding an Asthma Information Day on Saturday 25th March, 2000 at the Rochestown Park Hotel from 11am to 4pm covering such topics as Children and asthma, Women with asthma, all the latest inhaler devices, the triggers that can provoke asthma, execise and asthma, monitoring your asthma, and much more...
Admission is £5 per family, £2 per adult and £1 per child. Books and leaflets will be available on the day. All are welcome.
For further information you can phone the Asthma Line on
1850 44 54 64.
Talk and Display of patchwork and quilting by Emer Fahy on Thursday 2nd March @ 8.30pm in the Carrigaline Community Complex. All are welcome. The Millennium dinner is on Fri, 10th March @ Fernhill.
Phone: Noreen on 373861
Members interested in displaying crafts and works
can contact Carol on 863242
EVERYBODY - ITS PEOPLE IN NEED TIME AGAIN
Details of the Cork Programme for the seventh People in Need Telethon were announced today. The date is Friday, May 5th and a £5 million target has been set for the year. Since the first biannual People in Need Telethon twelve years ago, over £16 million has been distributed to hundreds of charitable organisations throughout the country.
According to Mr. Matt McNulty, Chairman of the People in Need Trust, "In 1998, £4.275 million was raised - the largest amount raised from any Telethon. This amount represents approximately £1.20 per head of population in the Republic and highlights once again the extraordinary and unfailing generosity of the Irish public."
The Policy or People in Need is that the money raised in a county is distributed amongst charitable organisations in that county. THE MONEY RAISED IN CORK, STAYS IN CORK! In 1998, 72 organisations benefited from grants of £380,110 raised and distributed in Cork city and county.
Organisations that received funds in the Cork city area in 1998 include Mahon Community Association, the Glen Neighbourhood Youth Project, the Cork Mental Health Association, Cerebral Palsy Ireland Lavanagh Centre, Knocknaheeny Hollyhill Youth Project, Good Sheperd Services, Cork Deaf Enterprises and the Cork Simon Community.
Costs are kept to an absolute minimum, with companies donating products and services as well as money and people of all ages, from all walks of life volunteer their time and energy to organise fundraising events from around the country.
Mary Dwyer, Manager of the Cork People in Need office is appealing to volunteers to either organise a fundraiser or to help co-ordinate events in their area. "This year, we hope to meet our target, enhancing the quality of life of many people in need in our society." said Mary Dwyer. "We are planning plenty of exciting events between now and May 5th, including the National "Granathon" Competition, which will have its national finals in Leitrim. People are organising swimathons, skipathons, fancy dress competitions, dinner dances, discos, bed pushing between towns, truck convoys, male leg waxing, etc. The fundraising ideas are only limited by individual imagination." She added.
For a Telethon information pack, please contact Mary Dwyer at the Cork People in Need Office on tel: (021) 272488, fax: (021) 272744 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
FAIR COMES TO CARRIGALINE
On Sunday 5th March, Carrigaline's first Antiques & Fine Art Fair of the year 2000 will take place at the Carrigaline Court Hotel. This fair will afford the people of Carrigaline and the surrounding area, the opportunity to purchase top quality antiques and art objects at a fair price.
The exhibitors of this fair will offer a wide variety of fine 18th and 19th century furniture, porcelain, glass, coins, jewellery, art clocks and other collectibles. There are also items of Irish interest in the form of Irish Furniture. In all ninety exhibitors will travel to Carrigaline from the four provinces and this promises to be an event of real interest to the public. It also offers an opportunity to young couples in the burgeoning house market to make some very good investments as well as enhancing their homes. Premier Antiques who have organised the event are offering free advice and evaluation service on anything you care to bring along between 3 and 4 o'clock on Sunday. As you can see the occasion has something of interest for everyone. And for anyone who has only watched the Antiques Road Show on TV this is a must. Mr Ted Hegarty of Premier Antiques informs us that Carrigaline Fair is the first of many, more are planned in various centres around West Cork during the coming months. If you have any queries why not ring Ted at 021 374235. The fair will take place in the sumptuous function room of the Carrigaline Court Hotel from 11am to 7pm, so come early to avail of the best value. Carrigaline Premier Antiques Fair - Sunday 5th March 11am - 7pm - Adm. £2