The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:
On 12 December, during a solemn liturgy celebrated in Sofia Cathedral , Bishop Christo Proykov, Exarch and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Bulgaria, appointed the Salesian Fr Petr Němec archimandrite.
Taking part in the ceremony were the Nuncio Apostolic in Bulgaria, Archbishop Janusz Bolonek, the Salesian Provincial in Prague Fr František Blaha and 12 priests from the diocese.
In his homily, Bishop Proykov ha described the vocation journey of Fr Němec and the witness given by his family. His brother and sister-in-law, Salesians-Cooperators, already parents of 5 children adopted 6 youngsters. The Exarch emphasised that for a priest the most precious and greatest good is and has to be God.
At the end of the ceremony bull of appointment was read. After saying a prayer Bishop Proykov gave Fr Němec a pectoral cross and the ”epigonàtion”, a liturgical ornament in the Byzantine rite worn by Bishops, Archimandrites and other dignitaries, a symbol of the Word of God.
Bishop Proykov had wanted to bestow this honour on Fr Němec, on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, which occurred the previous day as a mark of recognition for the work of the Salesians in Bulgaria.
The Salesians, present in the country since 1994 with one community work in two centres. For the last two years they have also been working in the Gypsy area of Stara Zagora where they are building up a new project. They organise summer camps for children and young people from all the diocese, train leaders for the youth groups, and are responsible in the diocese for a number of activities such as Caritas, the formation of priests, catechesis, vocation promotion and the ecumenical movement. The Rector of the Salesian community Fr Petr Cvrkal has been elected President of the Conference of Religious in Bulgaria.
In Bulgaria 83% of the population is Orthodox, 13% Muslim, 0,6% Catholic and 0,5% Protestant. There are three Catholic dioceses: two of the Latin rite, at Sofia-Plovdiv and Ruse, and one of the Eastern rite a Sofia.
In the Eastern Catholic Churches the title “Archimandrite” is almost exclusively an honorary one. In exceptional circumstances it is conferred on priests of the Latin rite who are very close to the Eastern rite because of their studies, liturgy or charitable work. The term “Archimandrìtis”, which in Greek literally means “chief of a sheepfold,” recalls the image of the Good Shepherd and is also used in reference to a monastic community. In Eastern Christian Churches the archimandrite can be the Superior of a monastery or of a Congregation.