Echos of a visit to the community of Plovdiv

While travelling in Southern Europe doing some research on the equality between the sexes (visit our web site:, I had the pleasure of meeting Fr. Lucas Chuff art who was visiting Plovdiv during his Sabbatical Year.
The hospitality I received from the community made my stay exceptionally interesting. The goodness and generosity of the welcome given to me by Frs.

Daniel, Petar and Claudio is a real grace. I am grateful to them for helping me understand a little better the complexity of the situation in Bulgaria, as well as the specific difficulties of their apostolate in a country where Catholics are in such a minority.
During the delicious meals and then sharing the very convivial moments at dish washing, I meditated on this passage from Montaigne: “Silence and modesty are qualities that make conversation easier.” (Essais, 1, 26).
At breakfast we savored “raiski obolka” (apples from Paradise) in France called “kaki”.

That’s why this house deserves its reputation as the “antechamber to Paradise”.
I also met two Oblate Sisters, Anna Maria and Eugenia, during Sunday dinner when they invite the entire community. My heart was warmed by their solicitude.
They all helped me understand that through the vicissitudes of 150 years of history, Assumptionists and Oblates have been living what they call the “Mission d’Orient”. What a wonderful witness to their perseverance and optimism!
It was also a great pleasure to discover a little bit of Bulgaria, admire the beautiful ancient city of Plovdiv, and meet some intellectuals in Sofia in connection with my research.
One of the more memorable moments of this trip was the Sunday Mass in the Oriental Rite in the church of the Ascension.

Fr. Claudio’s “majestic” celebration gave an unexpected power to a ritual which was unknown to me. I seemed to understand what connects believers beyond the diversity of the rites: the collective sense of a presence.
Finally it came time for the much anticipated trip to Pokrovan! The smiling welcome of the faithful, the warm hospitality of S. Vasilla and S. Bernadetta, the discreet generosity of Fr. Claudio and Mr. Lioubcho who accompanied us, made these hours of fervor and sharing the crowning joy of our stay.

Florence Montreynaud, writer, historian.