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Its over 50 years, that Fr. Richard Stark is related to the SVD. He was born in 1938 in a Catholic family (Westphalia). Fr. Richard narrating his vocation story mentions of a particular meeting, which had a deep influence on him. He studied for 3 years in the field of retail trade. Once it so happened that there in the town of Mettingen in the federal land of Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine) met a priest working in Congo, who told him about the utter poverty and dire needs of the local residents. “It occurred to me to go to such a place and help these people and teach them how to earn their living. I realised, that one can go there only as a priest”, recalls Fr. Richard. He left the commercial life and took up studies. In order to join the seminary he had to first complete basic education. The first steps on the path of religious missionary life were in the seminary of St. Gabriel’s, which he joined in the year 1961. Here he completed his philosophy and novitiate. On the 1st of May in 1963, exactly 50 years ago he pronounced the religious vows for the first time. At that time no one could even imagine that he would celebrate the 50th anniversary of this particular day in Russia (Rusland) and that too in St. Petersburg as the parish priest of one of the parishes..

In 1965 he went to Sankt-Augustin to study theology. Here he was ordained as a priest in the Society of the Divine Word in 1967. Soon he left for France for language study as he received his first appointment to Congo. From 1969 Fr. Stark carried out various responsibilities for a period of 28 years. These were the hardest of the times in this country. He established several mission stations

and also a Radio station. He was in charge of the Diocesan foundation for development. During the civil war he brought medical help to the injured. During his service in Kikwit, he found one of the most serious outbreaks of Ebola. Thanks to his work, the international community paid attention to this deadly tropical disease. Immediately they began research work in an attempt to look for treatment and protection from it in the future.

Fr. Richard Stark was transferred to URAL Region in the year 1999. St. Petersburg became his first parish in Russia. Here he got involved in preparing a place for the SVD seminarians. The SVD house of formation in St. Petersburg was opened in 2001. Fr. Richard became the first parish priest of the parish of the Visitation in St. Petersburg. Having undergone heart surgery Fr. Stark came back

to Russia and continued his work in Moscow. Since 2005 Fr. Stark once again took up his responsibility at the Visitation. Besides his usual pastoral and administrative work, he lovingly takes care of the African students in St. Petersburg and very actively participates in the social projects on the vast territory of St. Petersburg. In 2009 Fr. Stark was awarded with the order for his services to the “Federal Republic of Germany”. This award is given to the German and foreign citizens for special services to Germany in the field of politics, economics and even social, spiritual and human welfare. Presenting the award the German Ambassador to Russia underlined Fr. Richard’s achievement saying that by his “untiring and selfless service in Russia Fr. Richard has contributed to the convergence, reconciliation and understanding among the peoples of both countries”.

In 2012, Fr. Stark was appointed the Chairman of the Board “of the Maltese Relief Services “in St.

Petersburg”.     Author and translator Fr. Jakub Baszczyszyn, Regional SVD


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