The Kishinev chapel is tiny and the only haven for Catholics in Moldavia. On Sundays and holydays it overflows with people who faint from the poor ventilation and crush. First aid must often be summoned. However after coming several times, it refused to render assistance. One time, when called, it replied as follows:
"You pray to God, let God heal you!"
People from all over Moldavia gather there to pray. People travel by bus with transfers for 100-200 kms. (60-120 miles) and upon arriving cannot make their confession because one priest is not capable of ministering to all the Catholics of Moldavia. The faithful have often appealed to Religious Affairs Commissioner Vikonski asking permission for at least one more Catholic priest to work in Moldavia. The Commissioner did not even want to hear of it, for supposedly the Soviet government has a great deal of trouble with that one priest. What would happen if Moldavia had two priests ?
There are approximately 40,000 Catholics in Moldavia. Most of them have forgotten religious practice due to the shortage of priests, although they proudly consider themselves Catholics.
In 1978, at the request of the faithful, Father V. Zavalniuk appealed to the bishop of Riga, asking him to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to the Catholics of Moldavia. Moldavia's Commissioner Vikonski consented to allow the bishop to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation, if there were no opposition from Moscow. It was decided to hold the ceremony on June 4th. All the Catholics joyfully prepared to greet their shepherd. Father Zavalniuk flew to Riga to escort the bishop to Kishinew, but it turned out that the Riga Religious Affairs Commissioner "knew nothing about this. After a call was placed to Moscow, Vice-Commissioner for Religious Affairs Tarasov replied that Moscow did not decide such matters.
When Chairman Faiclevich of the Kishinew church committee again sent to see Vikonskis for an explanation, the latter stated that he did not want to see any bishop and would not grant him permission to come. Vikonski repeated the same to the faithful who assailed the commissioner's office in groups. It would appear that representatives of the Soviet government are capable of doing well only one type of work: lie and deceive.
On June 27, 1978 (Feast of St. Vladislav) several priests came to congratulate Father Zavalniuk, as did many faithful hoping to make their confession since there were more priests available. Unfortunately, government representatives forbade the visiting priests to say Mass publicly in the chapel or to hear confessions. Secretary Trofanova of the LeninRayon committee observed the services and later berated representatives of the church committee for the fact that many children attended the services and young teenagers served at Mass.
In the Soviet Union young people are permitted to watch immoral movies from the age of 16, but to serve at Mass one has to be 18!
The Catholics of Rashkov are continually sending telegram after telegram to Kishinew asking for a priest, but the government strictly refuses to issue permission. But that is not all. The atheists of Rashkov are persecuting the faithful in various ways, for the purpose of breaking them of the habit of religious practice. Children suffer the most. After being chased from one room where they prayed , the children began to assemble in the cemetery. KGB agents chased them from there also. After finding in the woods a fragment of a wall from the destroyed church, the children set up a modest altar on that spot and gathered there every evening to pray. The atheists found the children there also and destroyed the altar. Then the children began to assemble together with adults in a small room in the yard of the former church. Farm council chairman Bugarosh came the evening of May 29th and shouting obscenities dragged the children by the collar from the room of prayer. Such attacks against children are common-place occurances in Rash-kov.
Children fight for their faith not only through prayer, but also through sacrifice. They give up their childish pleasures, candy, in order to have Holy Masses said with the money saved, begging God for Freedom of belief and perseverance in good.
The Catholics of Rashkov travel to Moscow nearly every other week demanding a priest. Moscow is using blackmail to rid itself of the unpleasant visits by the Catholics. The faithful were told that the priest is allowed to travel to Rashkov, but that he himself does not wish to do so. Secretary Kozhuk of the Rayon of Kamenka stated: "So long as I am here, you will see the priest about as much as you see your ears without a mirror."
The Catholics of Rashkov tirelessly ask the government to register the church committee, but the latter uses various measures to avoid doing so and does not register the committee.