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History

Organization of the Roman Catholic parish in Yekaterinburg was connected with existence of Polish community in the city. First Poles came to Siberia 400 years ago among the people of Ermak. Some Polish historiographers mention an earlier date, speaking about XIII century missionaries. Up to the end of XIX century it was Polish community that constituted 90 per cent of Catholic parishioners in Siberia. Therefore speaking about Catholics we should bear in mind the history of Polish people. Most people who joined Polish community were exiles and convicts coming here after another liberation riot. It was only in the second half of XIX century that they were joined by a considerable number of voluntary migrants looking for good earnings and bearable life conditions in Siberia.

The history of Catholics in Siberia started in 1806: by command of Alexander I Jesuit missions were open in Irkutsk and Tomsk. In the 1 st half of XIX century it was a typical feature of Catholic parishes in Siberia that members of Catholic monastic orders prevailed among clergy. After Jesuits were driven out of Russia, Benedictians took their place.

After a number of Polish uprisings a significant number of exiled clergy appeared in Siberia, but they were strictly prohibited from performing any religious duties. Government tried to isolate them and therefore gathered all priests in a Siberian village Tunka. After many years they could again work according to their holy orders but they were sent to the parishes of European Russia.

In the 1 st half of XIX century Catholic parishes started appearing in the Urals, but it was only in the 2 nd half of XIX century that they flourished. Roman Catholic parish in Yekaterinburg was founded during that period of time. The city was founded in 1723. The first Poles were among its founders. The name of an officer of Tobolsk infantry regiment, which was building the city, was Ivan Korolevitch. The 7 th and 8 th Orenburg battle regiments employing many Poles-Catholics, exiled after the uprising of 1830, were located in the city. However, it did not lead to organization of a Catholic parish, although according to the evidence the Emperor Nicolas I presented Catholic soldiers with a place for building the Church.

A Catholic temple nearest to Yekaterinburg was built in Perm in 1875. In Yekaterinburg the increasing number of citizens professed Catholicism. A prayer-house was rented for community gatherings. Among the first to manage the affairs of the community were elders (syndics) Valezy Vashkevitch, Zdislav Mitkevitch, Alfons Poklevsky-Kozell. In 1876 Father Francisc Butkevitch came to Yekaterinburg. His presence strengthened the parish and provided foundation to petition the authorities for building a Catholic temple in the city. As for the priest, he was in exile, and before Yekaterinburg he stayed in Kurgan. On receiving the right of free exit he returned to his native Kovno. There was no priest in Yekaterinburg for some time. Yet, it did not affect the process of receiving permission to build a temple. On July 27 1882 the first stone of the temple was laid.

The temple was consecrated by Father Bronislav Orlitsky on November 4, 1884. A.F. Poklevsy-Kozell, a prominent Urals industrialist made a significant financial contribution. Alfons Poklevsky-Kozell (1809-1890) was a councilor of State (rank in civil service in tsarist Russia); he was awarded with many orders, even an order for outstanding services granted by the Pope. Poklevsy-Kozell was also a successful entrepreneur. In the Urals and in Siberia he was known mainly as an alcohol magnate. Yet, he also was a magnate-owner of gold-mines, iron-works, forests, land, houses and estates. Poklevsy-Kozell was the first to organize river steam-navigation in Western Siberia; he participated in development and implementation of the project of Urals railway for mining and metallurgical industry (one of the stations on the line Yekaterinburg-Tjumen had a name Poklevskaya' up to 1963). Dozens of schools, hospitals, orphanages, free dining-rooms etc. were built thanks to his financial support. His countrymen-Poles remembered him as a defender of exiled (many of them were employed at his enterprises) and a devout Catholic. He made a great contribution into building five Catholic temples in the Urals and Siberia. The name of the architect who designed the former Yekaterinburg temple is unknown; the final project was approved by the city architect Reutov. The temple of St. Anna in Yekaterinburg was considered a branch temple then being within the Omsk Siberian Deanery. The main altar was decorated with a splendid icon of St. Anna, in whose honour the temple was consecrated. Left altar was devoted to St. Mary, and the right one to John the Baptist. The temple was decorated with gypsum figures of Christ and the Saints. Since 1930ies the figure of Christ was kept in Sverdlovsk anti-religious museum, and later in the Museum of history and regional studies of Sverdlovsk region.

The Yekaterinburg temple was constructed very fast, within two years. Its red-brick building noticeably decorated one of the central streets of the city Pokrovsky Avenue. November 4, 1884 was the day joyful for Yekaterinburg Catholics that day the temple was consecrated. The Church occupied a comparatively small area: 12 x 30 arshines (1 arshin is equal to 28 inches). In winter it was heated with 3 stoves, and in the beginning of XX century it already had electric light. In the Church there was one of the city's sights the first organ.

A significant part of the territory which then was Perm province was under the authority of St. Anna parish in Yekaterinburg. It comprised the territories of five districts: Verhotursky, Yekaterinburgsky, Irbitsky, Kamishlovsky, Shadrinsky.

According to the census of 1913 the number of parishioners was 1000 people. In the houses on Gogol St. 9, which were a gift of syndic V.A. Poklevsy-Kozell (a son of A.F. Poklevsy-Kozell), there was a parish elementary school for the children of Catholics, a library and a charitable society. By the beginning of the 1 st World War the number of Catholic communities in the Urals increased significantly.

After the 1917 revolution the last Prior Frantisek Budres of the temple was arrested and shot. On September 17, 1920 Yekaterinburg Catholic community signed an agreement with the Council of Workers', Peasants' and Soldiers' Deputies on the right to use the property including the buildings of the church and houses on Gogol St. 9. On April 29, 1922 the confiscation of Yekaterinburg church valuables was carried out. Religious liberty proclaimed by Soviet power proved to be a fiction. In 1937 belonging to the Roman Catholic religion became the reason for many framed-up charges on espionage. Since 1922 up to 1960ies within the walls of the church there were a library, a kindergarten, and a bus station. In the beginning of 1960ies the building was demolished.

In 1991 with the appointment of new bishops the hierarchy of Catholic Church in Russia, Byelorussia, and Kazakhstan was reestablished. Yekaterinburg was placed under the jurisdiction of Asian diocese (bishop Joseph Vert). In 1992 a Roman Catholic community was registered in Yekaterinburg again. Several times it was visited by Father Joseph Svidnitsky. In 1993 Father George Pachuski became its official Prior (he came to Russia from Poland, and before Yekaterinburg he had worked in Tomsk parish). Then the number of parishioners did not exceed 20 people. Today about 500 people are members of the community. The parish has been gradually expanding its activities. The necessity to build a temple arose. On arrival of the second priest, Vicar Adam Romanjuk, a parish Sunday school for the children of Catholics was organized. In 1995 Father A. Romanjuk was sent to another parish, and Father Jaroslav Mitzhak came to work as a vicar. When Father J. Mitzhak left in 2001, Father Anton Romme became a vicar in this parish.

According to the government resolution three houses on Gogol St. 9, which were the property of the parish before 1924, were given to St. Anna parish in March 1996. The project of reconstruction of a parish building into a temple was developed by Ilia Kadochnikov (St.Petersburg) in cooperation with Martin Holbic (Slovakia) and Andrey Guselnikov (Yekaterinburg). In 1996 the parish of St. Anna officially marked its 120 th anniversary. The Pope's nuncio archbishop Jan Bukovsky attended this event and consecrated the building, which was then under construction. Local parishioners, seminarists from different seminaries of Poland, students-volunteers from Poland and France took part in the repair and reconstruction works, led by Stanislav Pachuski (Poland). Only in rare cases professional workers were hired to perform special kinds of work. Currently repair and reconstruction works are being carried out in the buildings planned for priests, religious sisters, Sunday school, library, and room for guests and meetings with parishioners. In perspective here will be a center for Catholic believers.

All this time St. Anna has guarded the spirituality of several generations; this spirituality helped this generation of Catholics to revive the parish and it raises hopes for a stable future of our parish. St. Anna, Jesus' grandmother, has always remained for us a symbol of family strength and unity, of kindness and warmth. She always provides us with understanding and support.

The parish is gradually growing. The new life in the parish of St. Anna started recently. Now along with priests religious sisters from the Congregation of Sisters of Catholic Apostolate work in the parish. Sisters take care of the temple, teach Catechism to children and young people in the parish Sunday school, and work with ill and elderly.

Our temple was consecrated on July 30, 2000. And the fact that it is a Jubilee temple made consecration especially significant. Consecration of the newly built temple was performed by the bishop Joseph Vert. A statement of Church consecration was solemnly signed by the Apostolic administrator of Western Siberia bishop Joseph Vert, Prior of St. Anna parish Father Ezhi Pachuski, and three members of parish council. After that the bishop placed relics of St. Apostle Philip, St. Josafat Kuntsevitch (bishop and martyr), and blessed martyrs from Pratulin, together with a copy of consecration statement into the niche under altar plate of the temple.

In 2001 Father Jaroslav Mitzhak was appointed responsible of work with youth in Western-Siberian Apostolic Administrative Unit. Each week there are meetings for youth in the parish, where young people together with priests and religious sisters discuss various religious and other matters.

Parish library is gradually developing.

In 2011 St. Anna parish marked its 135 th anniversary.

Saint Anna from Yekaterinburg


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