Bishop Joseph Werth, S.J

Bishop Joseph Werth, S.J.
Bishop Joseph Werth, S.J.

Bishop Joseph Werth, S.J. is Bishop of the Diocese of Transfiguration in Novosibirsk (Russia).

Born in Karaganda, Kazakstan, on Oct. 4, 1952, Joseph Werth was the second oldest of 11 children born to Johannes Werth (born Oct. 1, 1923, in Schoenchen, Russia (on the Volga), who died Nov. 18, 1995, at Ilbenstadt (near Frankfurt, Germany) and his wife, Maria Hoerner Werth (born Dec. 23, 1931 at Speier, near Odessa, in the Ukraine, who died July 23, 2005, in Germany).

The Bishop's paternal grandfather was Joseph Werth, born. Dec. 15, 1871, Schoenchen, Russia; deported as a kulak to Kazakstan in 1929 (with his wife and children); died Nov. 25, 1951. The Bishop's paternal grandmother was Paulina Demund, born 1881 in Schoenchen; deported 1929; died Dec. 7, 1933. The Bishop's maternal grandfather was Dominic Hoerner, b. in Speier, Ukraine; deported about 1931 to Kazakstan.

Joseph Werth began studies for the priesthood clandestinely in Lithuania under the direction of a leader of the underground Jesuits, who also secretly accepted him into the Lithuanian Province of the Society of Jesus. Later he completed his studies at the seminary in Kaunas. In 1984 Joseph Werth became the first Roman Catholic priest ordained since the 1930s in the Asian part of the former Soviet Union.

He pursued pastoral work at Aktyubinsk, Kazakhstan from 1984 till 1988. In 1988 he moved to Marx in Russia's Saratov oblast, where two of his own sisters (both Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament) had organized about thirty Catholic congregations among the thousands of ethnic Germans who, following the death of Stalin, had returned to the area of the former Volga German Republic. He served there until 1991.

On April 13, 1991 Joseph Werth was named as the Latin-rite Apostolic Administrator of Siberia by Pope John Paul II. He was consecrated on 16 June 1991 in Moscow.

The Apostolic Administration of Siberia was divided in 1999 into the Apostolic Administrations of Eastern and of Western Siberia, and the Apostolic Administration of Western Siberia was elevated in 2002 to the rank of a diocese, the Diocese of Transfiguration in Novosibirsk. The center of his diocese is at Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia, where the cathedral stands.

Bishop Werth is fluent in Russian, German, and Lithuanian. He is not able to speak or to write in English.