A Day of Fellowship with Bishop Nikolaus Messmer in Nurenberg
Paulsen, Nina. "A Day of Fellowship with Bishop Nikolaus Messmer in Nurenberg." Volk auf dem Weg, July 2009, 17.
This translation from the original German-language text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado
Bischop Messmer (left) and Official Inspector Dr. Hoffmann
On June 20, organized by the Missions Procurate of the German Jesuits for the third time since 2007, an entire day was dedicated to fellowship with Nikolaus Messmer, S.J. (Society of Jesus - the Jesuits) of Bishkek, Kirghistan, in the Academic Caritas-Pirkheim House in Nuremberg.
Dozens of guests from near and far attended the get-together; many of them having lived in Kirghistan or Kazakhstan before their immigration to Germany. The service was led personally by Bishop Nikolaus Messmer. He was assisted by, among others, Brother Hieronymus Messmer, S.J. (of Upper Bavaria) and Dr. Alexander Hoffmann, Inspector for Catholic Germans from CIS-States (Bonn).
The get-together was overshadowed by a sad loss: Father Otto Messmer, S.J., who had planned this day of getting together and had partially been able to organize it before he was brutally murdered in Moscow toward the end of 2008. For several years he had been the Superior of the Jesuits in the Russian Region. Of nine children of the Messmer parents, who had settled in Karaganda after 1956, four sons had become priests, and three daughters had become Sisters of the Eucharist.
After the death of Father Michael Koehler, who beginning in the early 1960s had established a Catholic community in Frunze, now Bishop Messmer then worked in Bishkek and returned there after his ordination and spending eight years as priest and pastor. Subsequently, between 1998 and 2006, he served as Rector of the pre-seminary in Novosibirsk, with a three-year interruption while he studied higher theology. Since 2006 he has been Bishop and the very first Apostolic Administrator in Kirghistan.
Acts of mercy and support for poor, suffering and marginalized people continue to be the most important tasks of the Catholic Church in Kirghistan. Additionally, Bishop Messmer is working toward a dialog with other churches in that overwhelmingly are Islamic countries. The majority of German-Russian Catholics has emigrated to Germany, and church services are thus now conducted in Russian. Priests and sisters of various orders are concentrating on caring for many different nationalities and religions and for street kids, and they visit homes for the elderly and handicapped, and prisons.
A particular dream of Bishop Messmer continues to be to have a Cathedral in the center of Bishkek. The current church building, erected in 1969, stands at the edge of the city and thus it can hardly contribute to the improvement of communication. A piece of property for a new church has already been purchased.
As before, the Catholic Church in Kirghistan depends heavily on assistance from abroad. For this reason, these kinds of days of being together and meeting are intended to contribute to the establishment hereabouts of a circle of friends who will support a new beginning of the Catholic Church in Kirghistan.
Our appreciation is extended to ALex Herzog for translation of this article.