Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:
Last century our fathers and grandfathers in the diaspora who found a home in Austria founded our parish, later building the Protection of the Most-Holy Mother of God Church in Salzburg. This church is the spiritual haven for believers who find themselves in the region, who find consolation and help within its walls. Having no wealthy patrons, our ancestors built the church with their own means on very modest donations, which is seen is the humble style of the construction and its simple adornment.
Still, ever since, its worshipers had an Orthodox church in which to pray to the Lord. The parish never had rich contributors and now many parishioners live on welfare, not having employment. We have tried to preserve our cozy but decaying church, but these times are difficult. Now the small edifice cannot contain all the worshipers who wish to pray, meanwhile the mechanical systems are in need of repair as well.
With a great deal of difficulty, we were able to obtain permission to build a new church complex in Salzburg and have spent the last several years collecting money for construction.
Despite the fact that we live in a country with a fairly strong economy, we still could not collect the needed funds, and our community does not have significant resources, while local philanthropists have no interest in supporting ROCOR. We have patiently awaited help from Russia, but donors for a church “somewhere abroad” were not to be found either in government, nor from commercial or cultural figures.
New obstacles have now arisen: permission to build expires next year, which means that if we do not find the money in the next few months, our parish and the coming generations may lose the possibility of building a new church.
We appeal to you and hope that you do not disregard the work of our faithful ancestors by helping manifest this good effort.
We will be grateful for any monetary donations that could help us begin work before time elapses. The ancient Russian tradition of building churches throughout the world must not be forgotten. Any small sum donated not from abundance but from love for our Lord, He will return in manifold.
We likewise hope that you can inspire your friends, colleagues and acquaintances to participate in this project and support our church, thereby leaving their name to last in perpetuity.
St John of Kronstadt said: “If you had the good fortune of building a House of God, receive this as a great Gift of your Creator, for the hand of the Lord touches all who build churches, and the Lord will forgive many sins for it.”
Let us remember that the Austrian land is soaked by the blood of our compatriots who gave their lives fighting the Nazi regime and who died within the walls of concentration camps. For many years, our parish has paid for the maintenance of the graves, tended to by our sisterhood, of our ancestors, who by fate departed for eternity, leaving their bodies to be laid to rest in Salzburg and its environs. It is our sacred duty not only to commemorate them in our prayers, but to build a church to remember their great podvig, thereby sanctifying this place.
May God grant that the new church will be a spiritual retreat for believers for many centuries. The complex, to be built in the finest tradition of Russian architecture, will enhance the baroque style of Salzburg and become an architectural gem bearing witness to the lofty aesthetic ideals of the Russian culture.
We and our descendants will pray for the builders, benefactors, adorners and donors to this holy church, and these prayers will be lifted to the Throne of God for as long as this church stands…
With love in the Lord,
Rector Archpriest Georgy Kharlov
and Parish Council of the
Church of the Most-Holy Mother of God
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