Bishop Arjan Dodaj: Testimony of the bishop who came from the Iron Curtain

Archbishop Arjan Dodaj is Archbishop of Tirana-Durrës. Educated in atheism, in his youth he emigrated to Italy to work. There he met Christ and his priestly vocation in the Fraternity of the Sons of the Cross.

Sponsored space-January 1, 2023-Reading time: 2 minutes
Arjan Dodaj CARF

Photo: Mgr. Arjan Doda, Archbishop of Tirana-Durrës

Archbishop Arjan Dodaj is Archbishop of Tirana-Durrës (Albania). His life was not easy. He was born in Laç-Kurbin, in the same archdiocese, on January 21, 1977. In 1993, when he was only 16 years old, after completing his primary and secondary studies in his hometown, he emigrated to Italy and settled in Cuneo, where he began to work.

"At that time we were coming out of the Iron Curtain in which our country was, and pluralism appeared and, with it, the possibility of democracy, so many Albanians tried to find a better future in the West. Personally, I tried several times to escape, especially to Italy," he tells the CARF Foundation.

He worked as a welder - more than 10 hours a day - and finally in the Congregation of the Fraternity of the Sons of the Cross, he discovered his Christian faith. He was educated in atheism, but when he met Christ, he was baptized and God called him to the priesthood.

He was ordained a priest on May 11, 2003 by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica. Now, he is the first bishop of the Fraternity. "For me, being a bishop is not a point of arrival, but a call to even greater vigilance, even greater service and an ever more humble response."

Some members of his congregation are studying at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross to receive adequate training to face all the challenges worldwide.

With regard to the apostolic challenges of his country, he explained the duty they have to transmit that a fraternal relationship with other confessions is possible. "In Albania the relationship with Islam and the Orthodox Church is very special, not to say unique. Pope Francis himself has taken it to the world as an example of fraternal cooperation. It is clear that this is a gift that we can never take for granted, but must cultivate, accompany and support, every day. This is precisely why we often meet with the various religious leaders in various commissions, to present them with valuable initiatives in the fields of culture, education, women, immigrants and charity," he says.

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