Through the efforts of the Edifying Department of the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church, with the participation of father Cyril Shahzad, who heads the parish of St. Sergius of Radonezh in Sargodha (Punjab, Pakistan), Orthodox Church calendars for 2019 have been printed in Urdu.
The calendar, which is printed as a wall poster, gives information about feast and lent, features specific information about lent days and includes photos of the bell tower of the Rogozhskoe settlement in Moscow and photos of the Old-Rite bishops led by the current head of the Church, metropolitan of Moscow and All Rus’, Korniliy. The priests father Cyril and Michael Rodin, the head of the Edifying Department of the RPSC (Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church), worked together on the translation.
Father Cyril explained the significance of this work:
“At the end of January 2019, a truly historic event occurred in my native Pakistan: for the first time in the history of our country and for the first time in the lives of its Christians – who consider themselves the heirs of Apostle Thomas – an Orthodox Church calendar has been translated into Urdu and published. It will become a support, as if a mini-textbook, for the spiritual growth of our parishioners. Metropolitan of Moscow and All Rus’, Korniliy, blessed this work, and we offer prayers for him, just as we ask all the children of the Church to support us with their prayers.
The Orthodox calendar was published at the same time as construction work began – we are now building walls for the future church, in the name of the Venerable Sergius of Radonezh. We are also completing translations of the Old-Rite Russian Orthodox Prayer Book into Urdu. In addition, part of the parishioners have begun to study the Russian language and in the neighbouring school of St. Patrick, we opened an exhibition of children’s drawings, “The Beauty of Holy Rus’. Children of Russia – Children of Pakistan.”
These days, father Michael Rodin is in Sargodha. He started studying Urdu a year and a half ago and is now improving it in practice. Father Michael also organized Russian language courses for Pakistani Christians. About the unique project – the publication of the calendar in Urdu – he said the following:
“Surprisingly, the various ‘Orthodox denominations’ under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the ROCOR and the ROC MP, which have been present in Pakistan for many years, did not bother to prepare and publish a church calendar for their communities. For us, as the adherents of Ancient Orthodoxy, it is essential to maintain and develop the national cultures of all peoples who accept Orthodoxy. Therefore, we have tried first of all to make the church calendar clear and accessible, which is so important for the daily religious practice of each person.
We are often asked: many people in Pakistan use English as a common language, so why Urdu? Yes, some requirements are made here in English. English itself is the “language ofinternational communication”, which is more or less fluent only in educated and wealthy citizens. This is the legacy of the English colonialists, a non-native language for the overwhelming majority of the citizens of Pakistan, and it is used relatively narrowly. A significant part of our parishioners speak their native languages: Urdu, Punjabi, etc.
Following the example of our enlighteners in ancient Russia, in particular the Venerable Stephen of Perm, we are striving to reach the hearts of people. And here, for many, Urdu is the ‘ancestral language’. Of course, there are other languages, also with millions of speakers. I hope, in the future, we will be engaged in educational and translation work with them.”