The idea of building an orthodox church on the territory of the Todor Kabeshkov University of Transport goes back to the 90s of the previous century while the institution was being transformed from a military to a civil one. This transition also coincided with contemporary beginning of state and rulers’ attitudes changes towards Bulgarian Orthodox Church and faith.
Elderly university teachers, employees and friends have shared information from their memories of the existence of an orthodox chapel on the grounds of the Todor Kableshkov University of Transport, chapel’s location even being retained – at University library’s whereabouts. There are assertions that this place of worship was destroyed regrettably before 1950, during a time period marked by the University move to its current location. This information was not documented unfortunately and the chapel patron saint’s name was not established. Notwithstanding, initiators consider that a church construction on our institution territory is symbolically charged with Orthodox faith dissemination and Bulgarian spirit preservation, similarly to the way transport connects all people at different locations in the country.
The specific occasion prompting current initiative launch was a spontaneous conversation about pilgrim’s journeys to Saint Mount Athos monasteries between colleagues and the University Governing Body while celebrating the end of Academic 2016. Then the rector put forward the idea: “Why don’t we build a chapel on our grounds as well?” A few weeks later on his anniversary assoc. prof. Dimitar Dimitrov made the first donation, and namely some icons presented to him for his celebration and the sum of 300 BGN.
A decision of the Academic Council of The Todor Kableshkov University of Transport from 6th July 2016 sanctioned the initiative official onset; a week later, on 13th July 2016, the church construction was authorized on a cession of Sofia Bishop’s Residence Diocesan Council. Due to efforts failure of finding out information as to the previous chapel in order to restore it and preserve its name, the Initiative Committee took the decision of dedicating the new church to all Bulgarian saints and martyrs so that they will be heavenly guardians and intercessors before God.
Along with these activities a few working meetings and discussions were carried out between the initiative committee, priests, specialists in architecture and construction as to the church architectural design. Many orthodox churches and monasteries buildings were examined and considered. A unanimous decision was reached that the design must be based on Bulgarian church building traditions and more specifically, that motifs of Renaissance builder Kolyo Ficheto school must be implemented. The architectural design is being developed, and a suitable for the church bell has also been found.
The Initiative Committee, already consisting of 16 members, carried out its constitutive meeting on 1st September 2016. Church board as well as chairperson and secretary cashier were elected. After Church Board approval, church architectural design, seal and offer for bank account opening for fund raising were sent to Sofia Bishop’s Residence for coordination. Registration was also made with Registry Agency (BULSTAT). Bank account was opened on 14th November 2016 in Raiffeisenbank. First advertising materials for the church under construction (fliers and posters) were printed. Materials were circulated mainly among employees of the National Railway Infrastructure Company, BDZ EAD, Metropolitan Sofia, Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications. Information was also spread across Internet social networking websites.
An academic celebration was carried out in the Todor Kableshkov University of Transport ceremonial hall on 14th December 2016 on the occasion of the launch of a fund-raising campaign for the construction of All Bulgarian Saints Orthodox Church at University. Celebration guests were: His Reverence father Angel, Sofia Bishop’s Residence coadjutor, assoc. prof. Dimitar Dimitrov, conductor, with many years of service, of the choir at the most significant for Bulgaria church, St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, assoc. prof. Klara Toneva, PhD, a well-known theologian and lecturer at Faculty of Theology, Sofia University, father Georgi, chairperson of the church under construction Church Board, architect Maya Shakina, church architectural design author. The academic celebration was covered by Bulgarian National Television-1 programme “Faith and Society”, TV EVROPA, The Trud (weekly paper), The AZ-BUKI, Градът.bg and other media.
A solemn blessing of waters took place on 15th June 2017, on the eve of All Bulgarian Saints religious holiday, at the Todor Kableshkov University of Transport, on the location chosen for the construction of All Bulgarian Saints Orthodox Church; the blessing of waters was followed by a charity concert under the motto “LET US DO GOOD WITH SONGS AND FOLK DANCES!”. The event was attended by Rectors Governing Body, current and former lecturers, employees and guests. In the concert beginning spectators delighted in listening to the excellent performance of the Mixed choir at Holy Trinity Church, Slatina. Then real dance impetuosity started with the participation of 9 folk groups, including more than 120 dancers and singers who revealed beauty, variety, uniqueness and magic of Bulgarian folk dances and songs.
History goes on …