Saint Irenaeus byzantine catholic parish
After the First World War, the turn of events pushed many Russians into exile, especially to France where they could find jobs. In Lyon, the priest Paul Couturier was confronted with these Russian emigrants who had lost everything, piously keeping their Icons as a testament to the faith passed down from their ancestors.
A small number of these refugees asked to join the Catholic Church. Even in Russia, before the Revolution, a small Catholic group had started to grow in Saint Petersburg and Moscow. (see Russian Greek Catholic Church)
On December 18, 1932, a chapel for Russian Catholics was founded under the patronage of Saint Irenaeus. This chapel, intended primarily for Russians and other Catholic Slavs, was meant to allow them to pray as in their homeland and allow the Catholics from Lyon to discover a different liturgical tradition.
Thus from its very beginning, this chapel had two dimensions: a pastoral one for the Eastern Catholics in Lyon, and an ecumenical one, allowing the Catholics originally from Lyon to discover the spiritual and liturgical traditions of the Eastern Christians.
Saint Irenaeus chapel became a parish in 1956, following the creation of the Ordinariate for Eastern Catholics in France.
With new immigration influxes, the parish welcomed Italo-Albanians, Melkites fleeing the Lebanese Civil War, and Greek-Catholics from Romania and Bulgaria after the fall of the Iron Wall. Since the late seventies, the use of French, common language of the parish community and of new generations, became increasingly widespread. This is how the « Catholic Slavic Parish » became the « Catholic Parish in the Byzantine Rite » of Lyon, taking care to protect its Slavic origins.
Meanwhile, from 1932, a fairly significant Greek Byzantine Catholic parish also existed, but merged with the Slavic parish after the death of their priest in 1961.
In 1991, at the request of Cardinal Decourtray, the place of worship was transferred to 6, place St. Irénée, to the chapel of the former convent of the Good Shepherd Sisters of Angers.
Following fathers Léon Génénoff, Nicolas Bradko and Pierre Kholodiline, Joël Courtois the current parish priest is Father Emmanuel Fritsch.