A sign of hope and peace for every Macedonian
In the picture: During solemn hierarchal liturgy, when newly founded eparchy of Strumica Skopje was inaugurated and when the first Eparch Msgr. Kiro Stojanov was enthroned
Pope Francis will visit Macedonia
Catholics in Macedonia are preparing for Pope Francis’s arrival through prayer. The believers of this young country in the Balkans are divided into 15.000 believers of Byzantine rite and 5.000 believers of Latin rite, headed by one shepherd: Msgr. Kiro Stojanov, the Bishop of Skopje for Catholics of Latin rite and the Bishop of Strumica-Skopje for Catholics of Byzantine rite. The Pope will visit the capital city of Skopje. “Holy Father will visit a home town and a parish where Mother Theresa was born”, Msgr. Stojanov says, certain that “the Pope’s presence will be a gift from God both for Catholics and believers of other religions and for entire Macedonian nation”. In his opinion, the visit “will be very encouraging for believers in Macedonia who will be able to confirm their faith and devotion to Peter’s successor”. He adds that the journey “will definitely be the sign of hope and peace for every Macedonian”. “We have to transform this opportunity into a chance to foster peace and cooperation among different members of the society for the well-being of the county”, the prelate concludes.
“It is not a coincidence that Pope Francis has recently admitted that Catholic church in Macedonia has achieved a step of growth in faith,by pronouncing formation of exarchate for Catholics of Eastern rite into eparchy”, the bishop of Skopje says. Msgr. Stojanov has been designated as the first eparch of new church denomination. According to him, “Papa’s gesture is an encouragement for Macedonian believers, for this “little flock” to keep the faith of their fathers and testify the gospels by harmonious Christian life”. Mr. Stojanov remembers the history of Catholic church in this country, “soaked with suffering and martyrdom but also with great devotion of priests and the laity to stay united with the Roman church”.
“Fear not, little flock!”
The motto for trip to Macedonia is “Fear not, little flock”, and 20.000 Catholics may seem a little, but there is an outstanding activity behind these little numbers and new generation of young local priests is its drive. “Our community is very compact and lively thanks to unity and cooperation between the priests, monks and believers”, the bishop says, quoting the words of Benedict XVI ”Number is not important, it is who we are that defines us”. The Archbishop Stojanov assures that “Pope Francis will find a Church in Macedonia that strives to answer the challenges of contemporary man, Church that wants to reach the outskirts and greet everyone without any exclusion, Church open to ecumenism and interfaith dialogue that does not care about religious, national, ideological or political differences”.