On June 29th this year, Pope Francis announced the appointment of a reverend priest, Fr. EYevgeny Zinkovsky as Bishop-Assistant to the Karaganda Diocese. On September 12, in the Cathedral of Karaganda, he was ordained a bishop. Yevgeny Zinkovsky is the first Kazakhstani bishop in history to serve in Kazakhstan. We propose to you to learn about the new bishop a little more than is officially written, by reading the conversation with him.
О чем мечтает сердце нового епископа Казахстана

– Could you tell us about yourself as a whole, as a person: about your interests, what do you like and what don’t, what are you afraid of, what do you dream of, what kind of person do you consider yourself to be?

-It’s hard enough to talk about oneself, it’s complicated to characterize oneself. I’ve always had a dream that other people would tell me how they see me. Simply put, I dream of seeing myself as a happy priest who loves God, loves other people, loves the Church and gave his life to the ministry, and in this ministry he found happiness. I think that my heart dreams about it, I wish for it. This is how I would like not only to see myself, but to realize my vocation, my life and thus come to happiness.


—How did you end up in church? Born into a believing family and immediately baptized, or did you come to church yourself later? Who played a decisive role in the development of your faith?

-Until I was 15 years old, I was an ordinary Soviet child who knew nothing about God or about the Church. Then it turned out that the Lord, back in Soviet times, found a way to my heart. This was the case. We, the Polish children of the Shortandy region, were once offered, quite unexpectedly, to go to Poland in order to spend a month there and learn the culture of our ancestors. It was 1990. There we were taken to a church, and they said that prayer in the church is of great importance for Poles, so it would be nice if we could get to know this side of the life of Polish people as well. We were warned that people there are praying to God. If we feel bad or uneasy, we need to be quiet and leave the church, not disturbing the prayer of others. This was the first contact with the church in my life. When we returned from Poland, another miracle happened – a priest, Fr. Tadeusz Krzymiński came to us. This priest was one of the first priests who came from abroad to serve in Kazakhstan. At that time, he lived with my grandmother’s sister, so we met, he invited us to church, and after a while, we became friends. He taught us to pray, taught us to love God. It was a big discovery for me that my relatives from my father’s side were deeply religious Catholics. Only because of the fear that fettered people in Soviet times, they were afraid to talk to us children about God, so that we would not say anything at school. But when I started going to church, I saw that my grandmother, her sister, my father were deeply religious Catholics. It was a great joy for me. Then I realized that the birth of faith in my heart was due to a meeting with a priest and nun sisters, but it was also a gift of faith from my grandmother, father, and later my mother.

-How did you recognize a calling to the priesthood? Were there any obstacles from your relatives when you decided to devote your life to God?

– Looking at the priest of our parish, I saw in him some kind of special dedication to God, his happiness. I also saw the sisters who came for only two weeks at the invitation of Fr. Tadeusz,  coming to our parish to help him organize the first Christmas holiday. And when I watched how they treated the children, with that extraordinary love, as a child, I compared their happy look with the looks of those adults who had previously been a kind of example for me, the teachers of the school. And I saw that the priest and nuns – believers – have something more real in their heart and on their face, which was expressed in their attitude towards children, towards people. Looking at them and seeing their happiness, I suddenly heard in my heart that I would like to be like them. Fr. Tadeusz, as I later understood, noticed that God was calling me to the priesthood, but he never spoke to me about it openly. But through his look, through his attitude towards me, I felt the look of God, for which I am very grateful to him. When my family found out about my decision, at first, of course, my mother had some  apprehensions, then she became for me a true support in my vocation. As for my father, later I found out that he also dreamed of becoming a priest, but the situation in which he lived in Soviet times did not allow his dream to come true. He was very happy to see that I was following this path. When I became a priest, he was a truly happy father, whose son became a priest.

– You have spent more than one year abroad getting your education. During this time, did you have a desire to serve in another country?

-When I lived abroad, studying at the theological seminary and other universities, of course, I saw that the life of people there is noticeably different from the life of ordinary people in Kazakhstan. Surely, the desires were different. Many people told me: “Stay here, why would you  go back?”. But it seemed to me that I needed to return. For me, an example of returning to Kazakhstan were the priests who went to the Soviet Union during Soviet times, some from Poland, such as Fr. Vladislav Bukovinsky and his friends Fr. Joseph Kuchinsky, Fr. Bronislav Dzhepetskiy to serve the people, knowing that there are no Catholic priests there. Fr. Vladislav Bukovinsky, who decided to stay in Kazakhstan until his death, because he knew that if he left, there would be no priests in this country. The example of these priests has always been a special support. I thought that if at that time, knowing that for their priestly service they would end up in camps, they nevertheless went to the Soviet Union, to Kazakhstan to serve people, how can I stay. I have to serve God and people in our country, so this desire has always been strong in me.


– How did it happen that you serve in your native country, but not in the diocese where you are from geographically?

-As for the ministry in the Karaganda diocese, this is probably the will of God, although everything just happened quite simply. Because at the time when I became a priest, Kazakhstan was the only Apostolic Administration with its center in Karaganda. And when I became a priest, I received a decree with an appointment to serve in Karaganda. A week after my ordination, Kazakhstan was divided into 4 parts: the diocese in Karaganda and three Apostolic Administrations. And I stayed in the place where I was serving that time – in Karaganda.

—How did you react to the news of your appointment as bishop? What did you feel?

– The news of my appointment as bishop came as a surprise to me. There are always, of course, well-wishers or friends who say: „We wish you to become a bishop!”. I think this moment is present in the life of every priest. But when you are invited to the Nunciature, and on behalf of the Pope they express precisely his request, the request of the Pope, to accept your appointment as bishop… This proposal was unexpected. I liked that I was asked to go to the chapel and before Jesus think about my decision, about my consent: whether I accept this proposal from the Pope or not. Then before Jesus in prayer, I expressed my agreement to accept this offer.

– How did your family react to this news?

– Relatives took this news differently. Many said that this assignment was connected with difficult, responsible service, so they worry about me. For example, my mother says that even now her hands and heart tremble when she thinks about me, about her son. And  my sister says she is happy and prays for her brother.

—What functions will you perform with the attainment of the status of an assistant bishop?

-I am open to what the Lord has prepared for me. Of course, I understand that this is a certain responsibility – the ministry of the church in this status – in the status of a bishop. There is a joy that the Lord makes it possible to enter into the apostolic ministry. I am sure that the Lord will give me this gift so that I myself feel His love, His love for people, for our church, for our country, so that I, like the apostles, can love Jesus, love God the Father, love our people and with to carry the gospel to them with love. Surely this is the main responsibility of the bishop. Of course, there will be more specific challenges and responsibilities later, but I hope that the Lord in the Holy Spirit will guide me, the Most Holy Mother of God will help me with her motherly heavenly intercession, that the Church will never leave me, that I will be able to serve the Church, God and people. And you, dear ones, I ask for special prayerful, benevolent support, I ask that loving God together, we serve His Church.

Catholic Information Service of Central Asia
Translation: Alevtina Samusseva

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