The larger cities in Russia typically are home to a number of institutes of higher education—colleges, universities, art and music academies, technical institutes, military academies, and so forth. As a result, these cities have unusually large populations of young adults and young families. Many of them are searching for their purpose in life and making lifelong decisions for themselves and their families. As Catholics, we seek to present them with the Christian truths that will serve them well throughout the rest of their lives.
One of our college outreach programs is the Omega Project. It was created in 2002 with assistance from the Koch Foundation. At that time, the program operated only in Vladivostok. It included weekly screenings of movies with moral or religious themes, discussion groups, development of a website, volunteer opportunities, and distribution of literature on Catholic teachings and pro-life themes.
Today, Omega operates in Vladivostok, Nakhodka, and Lesozovodsk. Students from these cities now organize their own volunteer activities, help to operate different aspects of the Omega Project, and have set up e-mail contact with one another. They also help to run the annual Far Eastern Catholic Youth Conference.
Omega is not the only outreach effort, though. In his first few years in Vladivostok, Fr. Myron and Sergei Yakovlev (Director of the Vladivostok Chapter of No to Drugs and Alcohol) spoke to dozens of college classes about alcoholism, its dangers, and its development as a disease. Fr. Myron also talked to science classes about the compatibility of religion, science, faith, and reason.
Sr. Alicia Gonzalo, one of our sisters from Spain, has taught Spanish classes at the Far Eastern State University for years. In 2003, the university presented her with the “Foreign Teacher of the Year Award.” With over 40 foreign teachers to choose from, this was quite the compliment and a testament to Sister’s hard work and popularity.
Today, we have a number of seminarians spending their year of novitiate with us. These young men study Russian at the university, where they interact with students from Russia, China, Korea, and other countries. Our novices are friendly, outgoing, and not at all shy about discussing their faith. They have made many friends among the student body and are proving to be outstanding evangelists.
Members of our sister community, Sisters in Jesus the Lord, are now working with students at the new “mega-university” on Russian Island. The island is just over the bridge from Vladivostok. In time, the university expects to have 100,000 students. The sisters have an apartment on Russian Island and from there, will certainly be able to expand our outreach even further.
To assist with our college outreach program, click on the button below. Alternatively, you may wish to help support a sister or seminarian. Or your parish may partner with the Omega Project as a Sister Parish.