Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:
Magadan is part of Siberia, in far East Russia, and the capital of Kolyma, one of the most brutal sites in the Gulag.
The Gulag (1929-1953) were a series of forced labor camps established first under Lenin, then Stalin, as a way to implement the rapid industrialization of such resources as coal and timber. As well they became a place to warehouse political dissenters—anyone who believed in God was suspect—common criminals, the educated, and finally common people who were driven to exhaustion, starved, beaten and thrown on the trash heap. Many died of disease; others froze; still others were executed.
Fr. Michael Shields, born and bred in the Anchorage Archdiocese of Alaska, has been Pastor of the Nativity of Jesus in Magadan since 1994.
Having come back to the U.S. a few years—briefly, he thought—for a knee replacement, the Russian government suddenly informed him that he couldn’t return until December, 2022. So he’s been serving his old parish in Palmer, Alaska, a rural farming community, and overseeing the Mission from afar.
READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.