“These were mostly Poles, German-Russians, Ukranians and Lithuanians, many of whom had been exiled to Siberia during the reign of Joseph Stalin,”Then he added, “It was such an incredible privilege to serve as a priest for these people, and to see their amazing witness as Christians who had remained faithful throughout the Soviet era.”
Corcoran, son of local residents Elaine and Robert Corcoran, attended elementary and high school in Texas. Then he was off to Marquette University to study political science. His fascination with Russian/Soviet history and culture seemed to nudge him in that direction.
“As a novice, I dreamed about serving in Russia, although at that time it was still the Soviet Union,”recalls the priest. His novice master, Fr. Norbert Keller, was understanding of his desire … his Call … and encouraged him.
“If God wants to open up the Soviet Union, eventually nothing will be able to stop this from happening Then you’ll have to be ready to respond.”
The priest-in-training claimed the faith required. “God always does His part,” he says.
Despite his political science major, Corcoran’s mission is purely pastoral. In Novosibirsk, Corcoran’s duties were to the faithful in and around the city and beyond in nearby nations of Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan.
He says the Jesuit role is wrapped up in education rather than converting non-Catholics, a factor that makes their bond with the Russian Orthodox church quite strong. But it is also strong with the Lutherans among the German-Russians. During the great nightmare of Soviet days, the two faiths found many things in common to draw them together. That ecumenical spirit still prevails.
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