Focus 2009

Odessa - EST15-02-2009

Project 50 Years of salesian work in Odessa
Date: 1958-2009
Place: Odessa, Ukraine
Province: EST

For Salesians in Odessa this year is very special. It is the 50th anniversary of Salesian presence. In 1958 Fr Taddeus Hoppe arrived in Odessa on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. For many years, up until 1991 he was the only Roman Catholic priest in that aprt of Ukraine. Working there for 33 years, alone, Fr Taddeus kept the flame of faith alive. Thanks to him not only the parish but also the diocese now exists.


The story of this church began in 1904, when the first stone was laid. The church, called by Odessa inhabitants the “French church” was built by French sailors, as well as Italians and Spanish and was consecrated in 1913, 22 September. Communism resulted in repression of Christian churches, including the Catholic Church. Preists in particular were persecuted. The Second World War brought Odessa into the hands of the Romanians – German allies. The Romaenians allowed the diocese to start up again and let priests get on with their ministry. In 1942 the Parish Priest of St Peter's was Fr Peter Leoni. He had been imprisoned by the Soviets. Despite all this St Peter's remained the only parish in existence. On 8 December 1958 Fr Taddesu Hoppe arrived in Odessa... a spiritual son of Don Bosco.
Today there is Mass in 4 languages in the parish (Ukrainian, Russian, Polish and and English). The Salesian Cooperators have become an active group, and in June 2008 organised an international conference on the Strenna 2008. Salesians from Bielorussia and Russia took part. During the conference they decided to set up a Salesian Cooperator Council for the East Circumscription. This year too a monument to Fr Taddeus Hoppe was erected in the cemetery on the 5th anniversary of his death.


The Infants School has been running since 2006. There are 55 children split into 3 groups from 3 - 5 years. There are 5 teachers and 12 other people involved. The chilcren can remain at school throughout the day. There is time for catechetics too.
The school has also begun work for the smnallest children, 2-3 years old. They come 2-3 times a week with their mothers to meet infant psychologists. They look to their overall development.


From January 2007 Salesians and lay helpers have been following some 60 young prisoners. The educational activity is carried out by people who can offer their time for spiritual, scholastic and sporting activities. Last year a new area was set up in the prison for a chapel, to improve this aspect. There is also cooperation with Protestants in the prison ministry, especially for common prayer.


The sports group is for football, for boys born between 1993 and 1996. There are around 40 of them. The team has competed in regional championships and various other competitions. There are also regular meetings with a priest. A good relationship with the parents has also been set up.


All personnel belonging to the Youth Centre take part in formation meetings in the educative and Pastoral Community. This year saw the 2nd Seminar on “Educating as Christians” involving Salesian Cooperators.


There are activities for younger children in the Centre. This includes out of school activities for the 7 -14 year olds, from 4-6 pm. They are always active: videoclub, music, ethics discussions, games and tournaments. Summer holidays are happy times, with games, prayer and discussions. In September 2008 the Oratory was improved in terms of space for the kids.
There has been a boom in the last two years in dancing classes. 6 groups in all. These include: break dance, modern dancing. Around 70 people.
Four fields were organised (from 10 - 30 participants), four football tournaments (around 100 participants) , basketball as well. Two special feasts have been held: Don Bosco, and the centre's birthday. Leaders and youngsters have taken part in these feasts, cultural exchanges and twinning relationships, not only in Ukraine, but also beyond. the feast of “Dominic Savio 2008” has been celebrated for the past nine years with the theme of “We are all children of God!”.
There have been tourist groups through. The last group was 500 people from Ukraine, Bielorussia, Poland, Russia and the US.


You are invited to look at our web site. Centre activities have been published in Italian, Polish and Ukrainian,. Articles are published too in the “Parish Gazzette”, in the Salesian Bulletin “Don Bosco” and in the Polish Gazette “Kontakt”.
with the help of “Missioni di don Bosco” in Turin we have been able to put together two films on Salesian work in Odessa, and the activities of Fr Taddeus Hoppe. These films are in six languages.


  1. Opening primary school in September 2009.
  2. renewal of chapel.
  3. Sports fields
  4. Stricter cooperation between youth centres in the province.
  5. Formation for leaders and staff on human rights.

Address: Via Malinowskogo
35 A
65-014 Odessa
Tel: (38) (0482) 37-49-22
Web site: