LAZARISTS’ MONASTERY KAVALA

ABOUT US

For the local people, Lazarists’ Monastery in Kavala is identified with the Catholic Church. Indeed, the Priests of the Mission (Lazarists), arrived in Kavala from Thessaloniki in 1887 and founded the Monastery and Church of St. Paul to offer spiritual services to the French, Italians, Austrians and other Catholics who lived in that region.

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HISTORY

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The Jesuits’ successors in Thessaloniki since 1783, the Fathers Lazarists continued the mission in Eastern Macedonia. With rare visits, during the first decades, they settled permanently in Kavala on October 13th, 1887. The first Lazarist, who lived in Kavala until 1896, was Fr. Kazimir Hypert. He writes on September 1st, 1887 in “Calendar of Kavala’s Church”: “On September 1st, I received a telegram from Mr. Wartz, who called me urgently to his house because his infant was seriously ill. I said goodbye to my colleagues and the next day, at noon, I was at my destination… At the port, Mr. Wartz’s valet told me that the infant had died… Since there was no chapel in Kavala, the child was given his blessing to his house. There, I read the appropriate blessings, as told by the Russian prayer book… The whole town gathered to see how the Franks’ funeral takes place. Then, we boarded the ship and left for the City. There, the parents’ desire for the child to be buried in the Catholic cemetery was fulfilled.”
Then, the Catholics of that region sent a request to General Fr. Anthony Fiat for the foundation of the Lazarists’ Mission. He accepted the request and on September 25th, he appointed Fr. Hypert as manager.
On November 25th, the inauguration of the chapel, dedicated to Paul the Apostle, took place inside Mr. Sponty’s house. Since 1888, a small School began operating. And in 1889, the kaymakam offered land to the Mission to turn into a Catholic cemetery.
The current commune “Saint Paul” was built in 1900 by the builder of the Mission, Fr. Stefano Jougla, who in 1902 built the School (which no longer exists), which was named after John Gaviil Perboyre, a Lazarist martyr in China.

CAUSE

Catholic Priests of the Mission (Congregatio Sacerdotum Missionis) were founded in 1625 by a French priest, named St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660). The purpose of the community was from the beginning a deep and intense experience of the priestly call of its members and their effective contribution to the fullness of the Church. In an epistle, Vincent himself describes the main purpose of the Community: “Our small Community was established for having as a purpose unpaid visits to distant villages to preach, indoctrinate and prepare farmers in immaculate mysteries. To reconcile enemies and do everything we can for the patients’ physical and mental health”. Having obtained the approval of Pope Urban VIII in 1632, Vincent was able to continue the growth of the Community outside of France.

SOCIAL WORK

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Since their arrival in Kavala, the Fathers of the Mission worked creatively in pastoral, educational and charitable sector. The School “John Gabriel Perboyre” worked with 50-70 students on average until the years of the interwar. The prohibition of the Orthodox students’ registration on Catholic Schools in 1930 and the suffering of the Second World War, brought a heavy blow to the Lazarists’ educational work. Since the situation was not improved after the war due to the reduction of the catholic element, in 1947, the new chaplain Fr. Edmund Voutsinos gave the school the form of a teaching institute of the French language. As such, it continued to operate with notable success until the mid-1980s.
In Lazarists’ social work, from 1909 to 1981, the Sisters of Mercy participated, a female order also founded by Saint Vincent de Paul. The nuns offered the locals of Kavala invaluable charitable and educational services to the “St. Joseph” school and the small outer office until their departure from Kavala in 1981.