January 8, 2018 — Gaudete Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, was a big day for the small but enthusiastic Catholic Church in Kyrgyzstan. In the simple Catholic cathedral of Bishkek, the country’s capital, Jesuit Father Anthony J. Corcoran was installed as apostolic administrator, after being appointed to the position by Pope Francis on Aug. 29.
In the presence of parishioners from different areas of the country, Bishop José Luis Mumbiela of Almaty, Kazakhstan, representing the papal nuncio, presided at the liturgy and received Fr. Corcoran’s profession of faith and oath and read the papal decree of appointment.
Other bishops from Kazakhstan as well as the bishop of Uzbekistan, concelebrated, as did Jesuits working in the country and other guests.
Kyrgyzstan, in Central Asia, was once part of the Soviet Union. It has a population of about 6 million, of whom only about 500 are Roman Catholic. Jesuits have served at this Catholic mission since it was established 20 years ago. The country is predominantly Muslim, with a sizable Russian Orthodox minority. Its constitution guarantees religious freedom.
Born in Arizona in 1963 and raised in Texas, Fr. Corcoran entered the Society of Jesus in 1985 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1996. He has served as a missionary in Russia since 1997.
He served as regional superior of the Russian Region from January 2009 until February 2017. Prior to that, he was the vicar general in Novosibirsk, Russia, while also serving as rector in the Novosibirsk pre-seminary program.
Bishop Joseph Werth, SJ, of Novosibirsk, Russia, gave the homily.