The Catholic Travel Guide
Magadan, Russian Federation: Catholic Parish of the Nativity of Jesus
About the Parish:
Nativity of Jesus Parish, although in Russia, is actually part of the Diocese of Anchorage, Alaska, which is the nearest geographical diocese.
What was once a somber place, it was a transfer point for prisoners who were sent to the Soviet Union's notorious labor camps under Josef Stalin, where an estimated two million were sent to die from 1932-1953. Many of these were Catholics from places like western Ukraine, Lithuania, and Latvia. Few survived. A somber monument exists in the town in memory of those who perished.
Instead it offers hope for a new beginning of the Church here in Russia. Some of the few survivors of those camps are among those who helped get the parish established in 1991. They worshiped in an empty apartment at first. But by 2002 they had built a new church, the first and the only Catholic church in this area.
In 1994 Father Michael Shields of Anchorage was sent from Anchorage and made pastor of the church that did not yet have a building. He was hampered by local authorities who tried to prevent his work based on the fact that he was not a Russian citizen. He took the matter to court and, perhaps surprisingly, he won. Father Michael has since been joined by another American priest, Father David Means, who in now Pastor, and later by a third priest, Father Milosh Kravoski from Slovakia. In addition, a group of nuns from the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul are here in the parish.
All Masses are in Russian, but they are valid Catholic Masses so you are welcome to attend. We always encourage travelers to attend local Masses whenever possible to get a real taste of the local culture. And you are sure to receive a warm welcome here.
Weekday Masses are at 6:30 p.m on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. Saturday vigil Mass is at 5:00 p.m. and Sunday Mass is 11:00 a.m.
There is an airport here and it is a major seaport for Far East Russia. The time zone is UTC+12:00.
Photo credits: Fr. Michael Shields