April 24, 2022, saw the laying of the “cornerstone” of the new Church in Estonia – the Terra Mariana. Construction of the church began last year and is in its second phase, following the construction of a residence for the priests in 2015, which houses a small temporary chapel.
The parish is in full growth in this “land of Mary,” because, it should be remembered, Estonia was consecrated to Our Lady by Pope Innocent III in 1215. It therefore badly needs a church to replace the small chapel.
In addition, the future basement room will provide a decent place for catechism, meetings and retreats, which currently take place in the chapel and the smaller rooms.
“We look forward to our new church, which will be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady. Above all, it will provide our parishioners with a suitable place for the worship of God. On Sundays, the chapel is often so full that even the entrance is crowded.
“The new church will also make it possible to welcome people from outside, who otherwise might be a somewhat reluctant to make contact with the Catholic Church and its Tradition in a small, overcrowded room,” explains the serving priest, Fr. Volker Schultze.
The blessing of the cornerstone was celebrated by Fr. Karl Stehlin, Superior of the District of Eastern Europe. Many people were present: the usual members of this mass center, as well as people from outside.
The event has an all the more remarkable and even historical significance if one remembers that the last construction of a Catholic church in Estonia dates back more than a century: at the end of the 19th century.
* Estonia is the northernmost of the Baltic countries. Its capital is Tallinn and borders Russia to the east and Latvia to the south. Subjected to the communist regime in Moscow for 45 years, it became independent again with the fall of the Berlin Wall. In this country of 45,339 km2 – a little larger than Denmark, the Netherlands, or Switzerland – the population stands at about 1.2 million inhabitants.
In 2011, 65% of Estonians aged 15 and over said they were non-believers. The Orthodox represent 177,000 faithful, especially Russian speakers. Lutheranism brings together 11.9% of the population (about 144,000 followers). Catholicism, established since the first millennium, disappeared completely under the trusteeship of Sweden, between 1625 and 1774.
Rebirth will be very slow. At present, there is only one apostolic administrator for the country, which has less than 6,000 Catholics, for eleven priests and seven parishes. The Society of Saint Pius X has a mass center in Tallinn.