On May 26, 2022, an important event took place at the Interdiocesan Higher Theological Seminary “Mary the Mother of the Church” in Karaganda. In the presence of the bishops of several dioceses, priests and seminarians, the appointment of a new rector of this Catholic educational institution, in which future priests undergo their spiritual and pastoral formation, took place. From that day on, Father Ruslan Rakhimberlinov* assumed leadership of the seminary.
During the homily at the Holy Mass, Bishop José Luís Mumbiela Sierra emphasized that this day is really special for the Church in Kazakhstan, since in addition to the new appointment, this time marks the anniversary of the ordination of Bishop Jan Paweł Lenga, the anniversary of the death of Bishop Alexander Khira, the anniversary of the ordination of Fr. Valery Ermish and Fr. Alexander Fush. The bishops also thanked Fr. Paweł Martyniuk for the ministry he had been carrying out for 4 years**, and also introduced the new rector to those present.
In his turn, Father Paweł Martyniuk addressed the meeting participants: “First of all, I want to say thank you to the bishops for their trust, since I, a then young priest, was appointed rector of the seminary 4 years ago. Looking back, I notice in all this the participation of God’s Providence. I see that it was not always easy, but I managed to do a lot of useful things and I hope that all this will serve to the glory of God and bear good fruits (editor’s note.: Fr. P. Pytlowany led the seminary from 2011 to 2018), especially for leaving it in such a good condition that it is still not required to spend a lot of time and other resources for its repair. Thanks also to all those who worked with me and before me in this seminary. I thank the seminarians for the fact that they were able to peacefully and amicably solve the problems that arose. I am glad that I am leaving the seminary in perfect order after these years and I hope that we can continue to walk along this path together”.
Father Ruslan Rakhimberlinov expressed his gratitude to the bishops for the trust they are placing in him: “I promise that I will try to do everything that the Church wants from me. How it will turn out is known only to God. Because in the seminary, we are not learning to be rectors or bishops. We are studying to be priests and pastors. But, as they say, man proposes, but God disposes. And the second thing – the priest himself does not choose where to serve – the Church always calls him. So this is a new and meaningful experience for me. And I ask the bishops and seminarians for understanding. I may be wrong somewhere a long the line, but I hope that the bishops will prompt and direct me. And I ask the seminarians to remember that I, in fact, recently left here myself and have returned here once again”, he said.
* Reference: The new rector is 39 years old (born February 26, 1983), he comes from Karaganda. In 1989 he went to school № 64, where he received his basic general education. In 1998, he began training at a technical school as an electric welder. In 1999, he met Catholic youth and priests from the Congregation of the Marian Fathers, and in the same year received the sacrament of baptism on Easter Sunday. In 2000, he was admitted to the pre-seminary in Karaganda, while completing his secondary general education at evening school. In 2002 he was admitted to the first year of the higher theological seminary. In 2005 he was made a lector, in 2006 – an acolyte, in 2007 he became a deacon, after which he was sent to a one-year practice in the parish of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Ust Kamenogorsk. On June 28, 2008 he was ordained a priest by Bishop Jan Paweł Lenga. After his ordination, from 2008 to 2010 he worked as a vicar in the parish of St. Michael the Archangel in Charsk. From 2011 to 2012 he was an administrator, and later a rector in the parish of Balkhash. In 2013 he became a vicar priest in the parish of Our Lady of Fatima in Karaganda. From June 29, 2014, he served as rector in the parish of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Prishakhtinsk, after which he became a student at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, after which he received a License in Canon Law degree and was sent by the bishop to the parish of the Transfiguration of the Lord in the city of Pryshakhtinsk, Zhezkazgan. On May 26, 2022, he was appointed rector of the Interdiocesan Higher Theological Seminary “Mary the Mother of the Church” in Karaganda.
** The bishops expressed their gratitude in their letter to Fr. Paweł for the years of his service as rector of the seminary. Here is the full text:
„Dear, dear father Pawełl! At the end of your ministry, for which you were appointed on July 28, 2018 by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples as rector of the Interdiocesan Higher Theological Seminary “Mary the Mother of the Church” in Karaganda, we would like to express our deep gratitude and our appreciation for the pastoral and educational work carried out by you in our Catholic Church in Kazakhstan.
During these 4 years you left a lot of significant imprints among us. With enthusiasm and commitment, you collaborated to educate seminarians from various dioceses in Kazakhstan and other countries such as Armenia, Georgia, Uzbekistan. And all this service you did in fellowship with other educators of the Seminary and with the Ordinaries of the Catholic Bishops’ conference of Kazakhstan.
We thank you for your constant readiness for dialogue, and, above all, for the joy that comes from your heart, given to Jesus, the Mother of God and the Church.
Thanks to your commitment and generous service, the Seminary has an atmosphere of open dialogue between seminarians, and the opportunity to solve the problems that life always brings, in a brotherly way.
We would like to recall your efforts to affiliate the Seminary with the Pontifical University (editor’s note: The Pontifical Urbaniana Univercity in Rome and The Pontifical University of John Paul II in Krakow) and thus enable seminarians who have completed their theological education to obtain higher qualifications, such as a bachelor’s degree or a license in other theological disciplines.
We would also like to remember, dear Father Paweł, which you also performed in the administrative sphere in order to provide seminarians with decent living conditions.
Only the Lord knows how much work you have done for everyone, and what little we could see is just the tip of a huge iceberg of devotion and merciful love that you experienced and brought as a gift to Him, who will be eternally grateful to you.
Before the pandemic, you were still able to meet with many young people in various parishes in Kazakhstan to ask them about a possible vocation to the priesthood.
Your departure, of course, will leave a trace of regret in the hearts of many, but it is softened by the fact that you will continue to work with the same missionary passion, where the Lord wills, in one of the parishes in Kazakhstan.
We thank the Lord, Bishop of the Zamojsko-Lubaczowska diocese, and His Eminence Mons. Marian Rojek, who sent you to us as “Fidei Donum”, and especially you, for your generosity, giving us, through your service, this fraternal gift of faith.
We call on you and on your priestly ministry the blessing of God, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, the patroness of the Seminary, and all the holy martyrs of our country, so that your priesthood and your life will bring many spiritual fruits.
With respect, gratitude and our blessings.
On behalf of the Ordinary of Kazakhstan, the signatories: Adelio Dell’Oro
Bishop of Karaganda, responsible for the Seminary on behalf of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Kazakhstan, José Luís Mumbiela Sierra, Bishop of the Diocese of the Most Holy Trinity in Almaty, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Kazakhstan.