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The Franciscan Mission Foundation in Transcarpathia



Brother Tarzicius, Albert, Donat and Jonas
in the yard of the Franciscan monastery
in Nagyszőlős (Vynogradiv, 2008)

The Franciscan Mission Foundation in Transcarpathia was registered in Hungary in 1991. It was founded to help the missionary work of the Franciscan brothers (Franciscan Mission) in Transcarpathia, West Ukraine by faithful in Hungary who considered the work of the friars important and inspired by God. The Franciscan brothers started their mission in Transcarpathia in 1989 in Nagyszőlős (Vynogradiv), a small town near the Hungarian border. Their activities are acknowledged by everyone in the region and abroad. In 1997 the Franciscan Mission got an award from the Hungarian State "For the Minority" and in 2001 its name was recorded in the Golden Book of the Hungarian Heritage.

Transcarpathia is situated in the Western part of Ukraine. It borders the Carpathian Mountains, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland and is a multicultural and multinational area. The greatest national minority is  Hungarian , but in this area Ruthenians, Germans, Jews, Romans and Slovaks have lived together in peace for centuries. Its territory is 12171 km2 and its population is 1, 280 000 people. Four fifths of the territory is mountainous, full of picturesque pinewoods.

 

Food distribution in Tiszaújlak

In the 20th century Transcarpathia - because of political changes - belonged to four countries: Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union and since 1991 to Ukraine. After World War II the Soviet regime practically banned religious life in its territory. Churches were closed by force, civil organizations banned and their leaders and priests were taken away to death camps. The tool of the system was the intimidation of the faithful. Thousands died in Siberia and only a few priests returned.  They started to reorganize their churches in secret. The Roman Catholic, the Greek Catholic and the Protestant Churches were equally oppressed. Fifty years passed before changes came in 1989. After the Soviet regime had weakened,  religious life began to flourish in every denomination.

 

Lunch in the Kindergarten
in Gyertyánliget

Eleven Roman Catholic priests came back from the concentration camps altogether and started their work again.  Neighbouring Hungary followed the life of people in this area with great attention, and when it was possible in 1989, Hungary began negotiations with the Soviet State about sending a religious order that would give a spiritual backup to the people. The negotiations between Mr. Gorbachov and Cardinal Paskai ended successfully and the Franciscan Order in Hungary was requested to send missionary priests to Transcarpathia. Their duty was to reorganize the Roman Catholic Church and to live up to their vows undertaking the hard life of people in the area. This was the beginning of the Franciscan Mission in Transcarpathia.

  According to eyewitnesses, when the local people of Transcarpathia saw the Franciscan brothers in their religious clothes for the first time after the communist regime was gone,  they cried. Gradually the churches were opened up again; slowly the fear in people’s hearts was resolved and they revived the old religious rituals.  In a short time, the citizens of Ukraine  were allowed to travel abroad, to Hungary and people could establish contact with their relatives and acquaintances.

The Franciscan brothers had worked in 16 towns and villages that lie on a 100 km (63 miles) territory as spiritual leaders and pastors when they realised that their work was just not enough. Day by day they saw - and still see - human tragedies, illness, physical and mental poverty, loneliness. They decided to help in other ways too, and relieve somehow people’s burden. In this work they were financially helped by the Franciscan Mission Foundation for Transcarpathia.

Brother Donát visiting
family that suffered
damage caused by flood

Soon it was also clear that the Franciscan brothers had to take part in the preservation and handing down of cultural values. Gradually they began to work in these fields as well. During the past 16 years they have established numerous Catholic kindergartens, free soup kitchens, charity groups and institutions that help the needy with regular aid. At Easter and Christmas,  hundreds of poor senior citizens and families get food parcels and financial aid to purchase heating materials.

During the floods in 1998 and 2001 the Franciscan Mission reliably forwarded the aid sent to Transcarpathia from Hungary and from other countries. Through its help, hundreds of families had their houses rebuilt and many others got help in other ways.

At the Ordination
of Father Antal in Rome

In 1996 John Paul II ordained a Franciscan brother, Antal Majnek,  a Bishop. The Pope appointed him to the head of the newly formed Apostolic Administration of Transcarpathia, and later in 2002,  the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Munkács.

In the territory of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Munkács,  lots of institutions came into existence after the political changes during the past 15 years. That’s why,  in 2004,  the official founder of the Franciscan Mission Foundation for Transcarpathia modified the deed of endowment of the Foundation and made it possible for the Franciscan Mission Foundation for Transcarpathia to sponsor institutions and programs,  not only in the territory of the Franciscan mission but in other places of the Diocese, too.  Since that year, thanks to the number of constantly growing donations the Foundation has received, the Franciscan Mission Foundation for Transcarpathia has supported the Catholic organizations in Transcarpathia that work for poor people, for deepening spiritual life, and for the good of ordinary folks.

Please, support the people of Transcarpathia through the Franciscan Mission Foundation for Transcarpathia!

Kárpátaljai Ferences Misszió Alapítvány
Franciscan Mission Foundation for Transcarpathia
H-1183 Budapest, Tű Str. 2.
Bank: Erste Bank Hungary Rt., Budapest, Váci Str. 48.
Account nr.: IBAN: HU 05 11991102-02119070-89410019 (EUR)
IBAN:  HU 94 11991102-02119070-01410017 (USD)

Tax nr (for Hungarians): 19676157-1-43
home page: www.ferences.hu
E-mail: iroda[@]ferences[.]hu




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