The First Ten Years of Announcing the Gospel in the Arctic Circle

Nov 2, 2017 | Parish Ministry, Santiago

Murmansk, Russia. The Church of San Michael the Archangel in Murmansk, Russia was consecrated on November 11, 2007. Due to conflict in schedules of the Bishop, the 10th anniversary was celebrated on October 29 instead. On Friday morning, Fr. Mariano Sedano arrived from Rome and in the evening, Fr. José María Vegas, from St. Petersburg, Fr. Miguel Angel Velasco, along with the Provincial of the Province of Santiago, Fr. Pedro Belderrain, also arrived. And on Saturday afternoon, Bishop Pablo Pezzi arrived from Moscow arrived.


On Sunday at 11:00 in the morning, everything was ready for the celebration of its first 10 years as a parish, the only Catholic and Claretian presence in these latitudes and for the first time in the History of the Catholic Church in Russia. “Here are your children, beloved Congregation, to make Claret’s dream come true.” And with this joy the celebration began, a true celebration. Outside, the snow accompanied them, covering with its whiteness and beauty its surroundings while the faithful is celebrating inside the church. At the time of giving words of gratitude after the communion, the bishop again addressed the community giving thanks to Fr. Juan Emilio Sarmiento for the 17 years he was in charge of the Parish and then he appointed Fr. Alejandro Carbajo Olea cmf as the new pastor of the community.
The Orthodox Church of Murmansk was present in the person of Fr. Elias representing the Orthodox Bishop of the Archdiocese. Lay people from the community gave some presents to the Bishop in gratitude for their closeness and example as Good Shepherd. Valentina addressed Fr. Alejandro on behalf of the community, encouraging him and assuring him of all the support and accompaniment to the new mission entrusted to him as the new Pastor. The mother of Denis, the Claretian seminarian who found his missionary vocation in this parish, addressed Fr. Juan, thanking him on behalf of the entire community for the efforts and commitment put in these 17 years as pastor of the first Catholic community of Murmansk.
Father Juan Emilio Sarmiento CMF is an Argentinian, assigned to Russia in 1997 and since 2000 until October 29, 2017 was its first parish priest. With the help of a handful of Catholic faithful and the invaluable help and cooperation of the Congregation, he built the first Catholic church in these latitudes.We entrust to God and to the Virgin the life of Father Juan, who from January 2018 will continue his pastoral work in Spain. We wish Father Alejandro the best in this new stage in his missionary life and the constant company Claret and San Miguel Arcángel.

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