Archpriest
Nicholas Gurianov

Archimandrite
Sophrony (Sakharov)

Saint
Silouan the Athonite

A brother is a better defenсe than a strong city, and a friend is like the bars of a castle.
(Proverbs 18:19)
 

Our Convent is the place where we come in order to live in accordance with God's commandments and to fulfil God's will.

Ideally, a convent is an image of God’s love, and everyone here is supposed to rise above her limitations and weaknesses in order to reach the unity which Jesus Christ prayed for in Gethsemane.

A convent is a family united around God. The members of this family are very different and come from diverse backgrounds, and it is in the convent where they learn to love each other and pray for each other. Through this effort they gradually develop perfect love and prayerful concern for every living being and all humankind.

A convent is also an army, inasmuch as its soldiers must be ready for unconditional obedience to God’s command and for the daily battle against sin, relying on the armour of God.

St Elisabeth Convent was founded in 1999 on the basis of the Sisterhood of Saint Elisabeth. Currently, there are over 100 nuns in the Convent. Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok has been the spiritual father of the Convent since the very beginning of its existence. Our spiritual beacons, both in the everyday life of the Convent and in the ways we interact with the world, have been SS Martha and Mary Convent founded by Grand Princess Elisabeth in Moscow, as well as St John the Baptist Monastery in Essex, the UK, founded by Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov).

Please support us with your prayers, and may God bless you!

Spiritual Father of St Elisabeth ConventArchpriest Andrew Lemeshonok

The closer you get to God, the more painful it is. Every real step towards God tears an individual into pieces. The Lord does not want us to be attached to time, space, or values of any kind; He wants us to be free.

Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok

Birthday: 08.04.1956

Namesake Day: December 13 (Apostle Andrew the First-Called)

Ordination Dates: 07/04/1992; 14/11/1992

Archpriest
Demetrius Basalygo

The Church lives in a new time where the separation between past and future is overcome, where death, time, and space are no more. The Church is in a dual state, which can be described as a state of expectation and fulfillment at the same time. The Church is looking forward to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, while at the same time being the Kingdom of God that came with power, being a place where God and man are already re-united.

Archpriest Demetrius Basalygo

Birthday: 03.02.1969

Namesake Day: February 24 (St Demetrius of Priluki)

Ordination Dates: 02/10/1994; 16/10/1994

Archpriest
Sergius Khrapitsky

We all sincerely want to be saved. This is why we are here in church. Otherwise, what would we be doing here? Just going here out of habit, listening to chants, smiling at each other, and saying some nice words? This is emotional… In fact, we come here because we want to get ready for death and for a personal Golgotha. Each of us will have their personal Golgotha at a certain point. We should not be afraid to climb this Golgotha because we are Christians…

Archpriest Sergius Khrapitsky

Birthday: 17.04.1964

Namesake Day: October 8 (St Sergius of Radonezh)

Ordination Dates: 30/12/1995; 28/08/1996

Priest
Andrew Malakhovsky

The Church has a simple recipe for all occasions of our lives: cling to the Lord in prayer, in Communion, in everything that brings us closer to him. It is then that sorrows and misfortunes subside, and problems get solved. All this demands effort, renunciation of our selves, of our pride, because the enemy tries to sow anger, resentment, and hostility in our hearts.

Priest Andrew Malakhovsky

Birthday: 07.07.1965

Namesake Day: December 13 (Apostle Andrew the First-Called)

Ordination Dates: 28/05/1998; 06/06/1998;

Priest
Alexander Pashkovsky

The Lord never seeks a pretext to punish or destroy a person. Instead, He seeks to save every one of us.

Priest Alexander Pashkovsky

Birthday: 23.10.1957

Namesake Day: December 6 (Holy Right-Believing Prince Alexander Nevsky)

Ordination Dates: 15/03/2000; 23/04/2000

Priest
Valery Zakharov

The greatest accomplishment nowadays is, perhaps, to tolerate oneself with all one’s peculiarities, so to say, so that the Lord could remove these peculiarities and leave only the pure gold that He created – the gold of our souls, which is currently covered with rust…

Priest Valery Zakharov

Birthday: 14.02.1950

Namesake Day: March 22 (Holy Martyr Valery)

Ordination Dates: 23/05/2001; 25/11/2001

Priest
Sergius Faley

What does grieving to the Lord for one’s sins mean? It means changing one’s life by following Christ.

Priest Sergius Faley

Birthday: 07.08.1979

Namesake Day: October 8 (St Sergius of Radonezh)

Ordination Dates: 05/11/2009; 20/06/2010

Priest
Rodion Alkhovik

Whenever we face an ordeal or a difficulty, we should remember that our church is always open, and you can just come here and receive comfort. Here you can pray, ask God to forgive you, and receive the thing that we all came into this world for, i.e., unity with Christ.

Priest Rodion Alkhovik

Birthday: 29.08.1973

Namesake Day: November 23 (Apostle Rodion)

Ordination Dates: 28/11/2011; 25/02/2012

Priest
Sergius Nezhbort

Holiness is not an unreachable height. Holiness is when God begins to act inside a sinful person, in spite of all human talents and even weaknesses. So it is not a human achievement but God’s grace.

Priest Sergius Nezhbort

Birthday: 27.10.1974

Namesake Day: July 18 (St Sergius of Radonezh)

Ordination Dates: 10/02/2002; 16/06/2013

Priest
Artemius Tonoyan

The Gospel contains some words that tell us about the simplicity we have to achieve in order to be close to God, so that He could lay his hand on us as if we were children who have simple and light thoughts and feelings.

Priest Artemius Tonoyan

Birthday: 21.09.1968

Namesake Day: November 2 (Great Martyr Artemius)

Ordination Dates: 14/12/2009; 15/03/2015

Priest
George Glinsky

If we want to be with God, we must treat people like He treats us. Only if we accept our neighbours and try to help them, we will find God.

Priest George Glinsky

Birthday: 22.02.1980

Namesake Day: May 6 (Great Martyr George the Victory-Bearer)

Ordination Dates: 23/01/2011; 07/06/2015

Protodeacon
Protodeacon Oleg Tarasevich

Birthday: 14.11.1973

Namesake Day: September 20 (Holy Right-Believing Prince Oleg of Bryansk)

Ordination Dates: 22/10/2005

Deacon
Deacon Boris Bakhvalov

Birthday: 19.07.1972

Namesake Day: August 6 (Holy Right-Believing Prince Boris)

Ordination Dates: 02/06/2012

Rule of life

The Lord called them – and the sisters came to the Convent in order to see and realise their sins, to repent of them and to devote their lives to serving God and their neighbour. The purpose of the life of each sister is to learn to love God and her neighbour. It is for this reason that they abandoned their homes, their relatives, all their material wealth and honours, everything that singled them out in the crowd and boosted their egos. The life of a monastic sister is filled with obedience. Obedience means voluntary sacrifice of one's sinful self — a bloodless sacrifice that a sister brings to God's altar. Obedience is based on trust towards another sister, the abbess, and the spiritual father. It is not the formal rigid discipline but the eagerness to comply with God's will in all aspects of her life that makes one obedient. By cutting away her will and struggling with sinful protest and depression, a new personality is born: that of a Christ's follower — a nun

Our churches

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Church in Honour of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God

Patron Saint's Day: March 15 This church, otherwise referred to as “the festive church” by the parishioners, was built in honour of the Reigning icon of the Mother of God. Architect N.M. Diadko drew inspiration from various styles of the Ancient Russian church architecture, specifically, those of Vladimir-Suzdal and Pskov-Novgorod. Snow-white walls with thin horizontal lines, arcaded frieze, huge and elevated blue dome with golden stars forming a crown, and a decorative corbel arch around the dome help to create its solemn and festive look. The interior of the church resembles that of the ancient Byzantine churches. Natural materials, viz., limestone, various hues of marble, slate stone, quartzite, travertine, hornbeam and oak wood, brass and bronze, are used for decoration. Ancient techniques, such as fresco painting, mosaic, stone incrustation, enamelwork, and stained glass were employed for this project. This magnificent church took eight years to build and decorate: the construction took three years, and the decoration took five years. It is here that all festive services and the Sacrament of Matrimony are celebrated. The church in honour of the Reigning icon of the Mother of God was consecrated by His Holiness Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, during his visit to Belarus on October 18, 2008.

There are many holy objects such as icons with particles of the relics of God's saints in this church:
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St Elisabeth Church

Patron Saint's Day: July 18 The upper church in honour of St Elisabeth, the heavenly patroness of the Convent, was consecrated on January 2, 2005. Its interior design is well-crafted and rounded-up. The church has a five-tier iconostasis in the classical Russian style. All icons in this church were painted by the Convent’s icon painters in accordance with the Russian and Byzantine samples of the 12th-15th centuries, when church art was at its peak. Full cycle of worship is held in the upper and the lower churches daily, and the Psalter is read incessantly.

There are many holy objects such as icons with particles of the relics of God's saints in this church:
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St Nicholas Church

Patron Saint's Day: May 22, December 19 The construction of the Convent started with the church in honour of St Nicholas the Wonderworker. The foundation of the new church was laid on the plot of land allocated by the head doctor of the National Psychiatric Clinic (currently The National Applied Research Centre of Mental Health) A.T. Zorko near the hospital wall. The patients of the psychiatric clinic, as well as everyone willing to donate their time and effort to the godly cause, were the first builders of the Convent. The church was consecrated on December 10, 1999, a year after its construction began. This church was built according to the project by N.M. Diadko, following the traditions of the Ancient Russian sacred architecture. An ancient icon of St Nicholas with a particle of his relics is one of the most precious objects in this church. This icon has a silver cover made using the donations of the parishioners.

There are many holy objects such as icons with particles of the relics of God's saints in this church:
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Church in Honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs

Patron Saint's Day: July 17 The lower church (located in the basement of the church in honour of the Reigning icon of the Mother of God) in honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs was consecrated on October 13, 2012. It resembles ancient catacomb churches of the first Christians. It is in this church that the Sacrament of Baptism is usually held: there is a spacious stone font for baptism of children and adults in the centre of the nave. It is decorated with stone carving and mosaic.

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Church in Honour of the Inexahustible Chalice Icon of the Mother of God

Patron Saint's Day: May 18 There is a church in honour of the Inexhaustible Chalice icon of the Mother of God at the rehabilitation centre of the Convent located in v. Lysaja Hara, Minsk district, where people who want to get rid of drug and alcohol addiction live. This church was consecrated on January 3, 2010. The frescoes on the walls of this church show the history of human fall and his return to God. The icons of St Mary of Egypt, St Moses the Black, St Barbar the Thief and others who used to be sinners but achieved holiness through repentance serve as a testimony of God's mercy and of the face that salvation is possible for each person. Divine Liturgies are celebrated on Saturdays. The brothers read an akathist to the Inexhaustible Chalice icon of the Mother of God and the Psalter daily.

Church in Honour of the Righteous Lazarus

Patron Saint's Day: St Lazarus Saturday A church in honour of the Righteous Lazarus was consecrated at the Northern Cemetery in Minsk on May 10, 2005. The snow-white church is erected near a crematorium, as a witness of the victory over death and as a reminder of the fact that all are alive unto God. Frescoes of the Chora monastery church (now Istanbul) that show the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the Last Judgement that follows it served as samples for the mural paintings of this church. Panikhidas are served every Saturday. Divine Liturgies followed by panikhidas are celebrated on Sundays.

Church in honour of St Sergius of Radonezḩ

Patron Saint's Day: October 8 This church is currently being built on the territory of the Women’s Rehabilitation Centre of St Elisabeth Convent near v. Nialidavičy, Minsky Raion. A Divine Liturgy is celebrated in this church every week.

Church in Honour of St Xenia of Petersburg

Patron Saint's Day: February 6 The establishment of a chapel in honour of St Xenia of Petersburg in the boarding home No. 3 for adults with special needs in Minsk fifteen years ago was a good start of the future Convent. It was a friendly environment for those living in the boarding home who have to dwell in a limited, confined space and do not have the possibility of external communication. The fact that a chapel was consecrated on the territory of the boarding home made it possible for them to have an outlook into the world of God's love, even if not into the vain and mundane one. This chapel was consecrated on February 6, 1998. Divine liturgy is celebrated in the chapel in honour of St Xenia of Petersburg on Fridays. The residents of the boarding home get together with the brothers and sisters of the Convent on Thursday evenings in order to pray a moleben and akathist to the holy and blessed mother Xenia.

Church in honour of St Nectarios of Aegina

Patron Saint's Day: November 22 This church is located on the territory of the Boarding Home for Children with Special Needs. A Divine Liturgy with an Akathist to St Nectarios of Aegina is celebrated here weekly.

Chapel in honour of the Holy Martyrs Faith, Hope, Love, and their mother Sophia

Patron Saint's Day: September 30 This chapel is located in the building of the Sunday School of St Elisabeth Convent. Divine Liturgies are celebrated twice weekly.

Chapel in honour of the Merciful Icon of the Mother of God

Patron Saint's Day: November 25 Chapel in honour of the Merciful Icon of the Mother of God.

Church in honour of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco

Patron Saint's Day: July 2 This church is being built on the territory of the National Applied Research Centre of Mental Health.

Sisterhood

How the Sisterhood Appeared

The Sisterhood in honour of the Holy Martyr Grand Princess Elisabeth was established in Minsk in 1994. It began with some parishioners of the re-opened Ss Peter and Paul Cathedral starting to help with the repairs: throwing away construction rubbish and disassembling temporary walls erected inside the Cathedral in Soviet times. By that time, Father Andrew Lemeshonok was already a priest. He served in the Cathedral and organised meetings with the parishioners. These meetings probably were the roots from which the Sisterhood later grew.

Inspired by the example of their heavenly patroness and with the blessing of Father Andrew, the sisters went to carry out the commandments of the Lord to the places where love and care were in especially high demand - hospitals and residential facilities for children and adults. Today there are over three hundred sisters in the Sisterhood.

What Do The Sisters Do?

Among the people who the sisters care for are patients of several hospitals in Minsk, including boarding homes for children and adults with special needs in Novinki.

Visiting the people who are to a certain extent isolated from the society, having conversations with them, supporting them spiritually and emotionally – these are the tasks that the sisters try to accomplish. The sisters share their testimonies, talk with the patients about their problems and needs, read aloud spiritual books, and help the patients to prepare for Confession and Communion.

Aside from hospitals, the sisters also carry out their obediences in church shops located all around Minsk. In addition to other duties, they do their best to answer their customers’ questions, tell them about church life, comfort and inspire them.

Many sisters have admitted that their obedience is more of a lifestyle. One has to have a source of strength to be able to bring love and care to other people. This is why the sisters often go to confession and communion. They are required to attend the Akathist to St Elisabeth and weekly meetings of the Sisterhood.

How to Become a Sister?

It took us many years to figure out the best way to do it. First, people have a conversation with the Very Reverend Andrew Lemeshonok, who is the spiritual father of the Convent. If they feel they want to take part in the charitable work and are capable of doing so, they ask the spiritual father about it. Having received his blessing, a would-be sister goes to the senior sister of the healthcare facility that she had been assigned to. She may also be offered an obedience in church shops or workshops of the Convent. Initially, the new sister will work with a more experienced sister. After some time the new sister receives her vestment and gets appointed to an independent duty.

Senior Sister
Zinaida Lobosova

It is extremely important if we devote our lives not only to our own needs and requirements but also start to share it with other people. This is where God’s truth and power, which is made manifest through weakness, lies, and it is thanks to it that we can change when we come to help a sick, hopeless and lost person. It is through us that the Lord gives the word of comfort to these people. We grow spiritually at the same time. It is very important for us because the world teaches us to be egoists: live for your own sake and it doesn’t matter how other people live! That is why the ministry of a sister of mercy who sacrifices her time, her energy, and her heart to serve her neighbours is rewarded a hundredfold. The Lord gives one an experience of love and mercy they will need when they pass from this temporary life to the eternal one.

Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok

 

Rehabilitation centres

Lysaja Hara

Minsk District Executive Committee allocated a 120-hectare plot of farmland for the Sisterhood in v. Lysaja Hara (19 miles from Minsk) in 1998. A rehabilitation centre of St Elisabeth Convent was established on this land. It is here that people who experience difficult life situations or are crippled by sin (the homeless, the ex-prisoners, drug and alcohol addicts, the less able) can find shelter. Today there are ca. 180 men who stay in the rehabilitation centre under the supervision of the nuns. The Convent provides them with the essentials like clothes, food, hygiene kits, medications, etc.

The residents of the rehabilitation centre work on farms (breeding cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, hens, geese, and quails), in the fields (growing root crops, corn, annual and perennial herbs), in greenhouses, in an apiary, in a breeding kennel (breeding Central Asian shepherd dogs) and on construction sites.

The rehabilitation centre witnessed a happy event on January 3, 2010: His Eminence Philaret, Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, consecrated a church in honour of the Inexhaustible Chalice icon of the Mother of God and performed the rite of monastic profession of six brothers who have been carrying out their obediences in St Elisabeth Convent ever since.

A priest pays weekly visits to the centre to talk with the brothers. Akathists to the Inexhaustible Chalice icon of the Mother of God and Divine Liturgies are held on Wednesdays; there is also a Divine Liturgy and an All-Night igil every Saturday. There is a Sunday School for those who wish to learn the basics of the Orthodoxy.

Lysaja Hara

The Rehabilitation Centre of St Elisabeth Convent is God's land where the grace of Love penetrates the people's hearts helping them to go to the Source of Life and to begin a new life. Women who had encountered difficult times during their life's journey would also come to St Elisabeth Convent. That was the reason why the sisters decided to establish a Women's Rehabilitation Centre for them. We found a plot of land, which had been a military base, for this purpose. Notably, there had also been a church in honour of St Sergius of Radonezh on this land. The church was burnt down a couple of days before we bought this land but it didn't stop us. The church is being rebuilt with God's help, all the while the residents of this Rehabilitation Centre are changing their lives for the better thanks to prayers and labour.

Лысая Гора

NIALIDAVIČY

A Women’s Rehabilitation Centre of St Elisabeth Convent was establised near v. Nialidavičy 4 miles from v. Višnieŭka in 2011. Women in a difficult life situation, e.g. the homeless, the unemployed, or destitute, can find shelter and assistance here. Everyone who made up their mind to change something in their lives can put their abilities to work. Today there are thirty women in the Centre, who are supervised by Nun Barbara, Nun Vassa, and Nun Maria. They live in a two-storied building, 3-4 persons in each room. They receive three meals in a refectory daily. The nuns who carry out their obedience in Nialidavičy work closely with child protection services because there are several mothers who stay in the Centre with their children. They stay in two separate buildings. Raising and nurturing children is a very serious issue, which is why such families are under close inspection by the government. A miracle has already happened in the lives of each of these women: thanks to the help and support of the nuns they weren’t separated with their children.

Spiritual Awakening

Even the slightest transformation and even the tiniest step towards the Light is made possible thanks to communion, confession, and prayer. Prayer marks the beginning and the end of each day in the Centre. Prayer is regarded to be one of the most difficult tasks. However, the sisters are not afraid of work of any other kind. Divine Liturgies have been celebrated in the Rehabilitation Centre every Tuesday since October 2013, lately in the basement of the burnt-down church in honour of St Sergius of Radonezh. The residents of the Centre also read akathists to various saints (St Mary of Egypt, the Inexhaustible Chalice icon of the Mother of God, St Matrona of Moscow, St Nicholas the Wonderworker, St Panteleimon, Ss Cyril and Mary the Parents of St Sergius of Radonezḩ) every day. The Akathist to St Sergius of Radonezh is read daily. The sisters ask this saint to help them in the restoration of the church in his honour, which started in the spring of 2014 on the foundation that had been spared in the fire. The elegant wooden church is growing higher and higher, all the while the sisters are praying and waiting for the solemn bells to sound in Nialidavičy again.

The residents of the Centre read the Psalter all day round. They have the Rite of Forgiveness after evening prayers, followed by a holy procession with icons.

The nuns in charge of the Rehabilitation Centre say that the most important thing in the spiritual life of these women is to realise that they can no longer live without the Church. Communion is not a magic pill, which you take and go on with your usual daily routine. Communion, prayer, and labour must become the foundation and the norm of life. This is when people experience a revival. Fortunately, there have already been such cases: one of the residents of the Rehabilitation Centre has become a nun, and another woman has become a lay sister of the Sisterhood of St Elisabeth.

Labour Therapy

Every person in the Centre has duties assigned to her according to her strength and abilities. The sisters work in the vegetable garden, do handicrafts, and look after domestic animals. The women who stay in the Centre in Nialidavičy are mostly busy doing household chores, such as working in the kitchen, in a vegetable garden or a greenhouse, etc. Of course, there are some seasonal duties, too. For instance, they grow pleurotus mushrooms in the cellar in winter, and gather medicinal herbs (nettle and St John’s wort) in summer. They prepare willow bouquets for Palm Sunday (Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem). On average, they make bouquets using 50,000 willow branches!

There are a bookbinding workshop and a sewing workshop in the Centre. They generally manufacture various items for use in the Convent (such as monastic habits, aprons for refectory, kerchiefs, handkerchiefs, etc.) However, being good and laborious workers, the women are eager to do all kinds of work, and they perform it diligently, neatly, and well. Can there be a rehabilitation centre on a farm without domestic animals? The sisters look after goats, rabbits, and hens with love and care. You can always treat yourself to fresh goat milk and cottage cheese here. Being a woman is inseparable from doing handicrafts. Handicrafts in the Rehabilitation Centre in Nialidavičy is a way for the residents to relax and to re-establish their footing in life, as well as to acquire new skills and start new hobbies. The sisters make leather ladankas and plait prayer ropes, which are popular with people all around the globe. The residents of our Women’s Rehabilitation Centre always participate in the preparations for various holidays. For instance, they help in the bakery and dye eggs in the refectory before Pascha.

Creativity

The sisters performed an astonishing creative experiment under the leadership of Nun Vassa: they took part in a Christmas performance. It began with rehearsing Christmas carols. The sisters learned to sing them and then decided to walk around the houses in the village. The villagers were happy to meet them.

As it often happens, this simple idea grew into a large-scale creative project. At first, they sang

Christmas carols in small villages, but now the territory of their Christmas tours is expanding exponentially. Residents of the nearby villages and towns enjoy the kind and pleasant carols sung by the sisters.

Rehabilitation in the Centre

 

One is admitted to the Rehabilitation Centre only with the blessing of the Very Rev Andrew Lemeshonok, the spiritual father of St Elisabeth Convent, or the nuns in charge of the Convent’s affairs. You can receive a referral for a medical examination in a nearby hospital at the security post of St Elisabeth Convent (6 Vyhockaha vul., Minsk). Upon receiving the blessing and a health check, you can go to the Rehabilitation Centre.

Father Andrew holds meetings with the flock in the Church in honour of the Reigning icon of the Mother of God every Tuesday at 7pm. You can approach him after a meeting and receive his blessing.

A newcomer together with the monastic sisters usually determines the probation period (normally 3-6 months). After this period, the newcomer together with the nuns must look back on her time spent in the Centre. This talk is not a formal report of accomplished tasks but rather a spiritual analysis and a contemplation of her life and plans for the future. At the end of such a talk, the sister gets the opportunity to spend some more time in the Centre with a follow-up talk in the end. After a series of such talks, she is allowed to stay in the Centre for an unlimited period. Thanks to this approach, people come to realise that they do not simply pass the time in the Centre and that they are a part of something great and important.

Every individual is like a damaged icon that reveals her bright face to the extent that she is purified from sin through repentance. We need to do our best to help people to become pure, to start seeing God’s image within them, and to put effort into fighting their sins and passions. This is not an easy task, so no one can do it on her own, without God’s help and the support of her neighbours. However, if one has hope, faith, and trust in God, coupled with mutual pursuit of Love, everything is possible!

Nialidavičy

Нелидовичи

Social Ministry

Minsk City Centre for Medical Rehabilitation of Mentally Challenged Children

Children with psychoneurological and orthopedic issues have been helped in this centre for over thirty years. This centre is special because its young patients have the chance to be integrated into the society eventually. Their chances grow depending on how much attention and support they receive.

The sisters of our community have been visiting this centre since 2009 to support not only the children but also their relatives. Suffering of a child often becomes a gate through which the entire family turns to God. The sisters spend time with the children, tend to them, talk with them, and help them to prepare for Sacraments. There is a special room, which we are allowed to use to celebrate Liturgies and serve molebens. This is how the patients of the centre receive all-round physical, mental, and spiritual assistance.

Boarding Home for Mentally Challenged Adults No. 4

Another boarding home for mentally challenged adults opened in Minsk in January 2010. It turned out that the majority of its patients had formerly been patients of a boarding home for children with special needs patronised by our Sisterhood. Our sisters followed them and came to this boarding home, too.

A chapel in honour of the Merciful Icon of the Mother of God was established in this boarding home on November 25, 2013. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated here regularly. All residents of the boarding home have the opportunity to participate in the divine offices.

City Hospital No.2

Sisters of mercy have traditionally served in hospitals and clinics. The sisters of our Sisterhood visit the patients of City Hospital No.2. There is a city cardiology centre here, together with various specialised units. People of various ages and social status get medical help.

St Ambrose of Optina used to say, “Sometimes an illness grabs you to awaken your sleeping soul.” People who stay in hospital, away from daily routines and face to face with themselves, are more open to thoughts about their souls and God, about the meaning of their lives. Our sisters have been coming to this hospital for many years in order to comfort the patients and to spread the warmth and love of their hearts among those who need them. Thanks to the sisters’ ministry, many patients learned about the Sacraments of the Church for the first time. Some of them turned practising Christians.

Boarding Home for Children with Special Needs

This boarding home is a educational and medical institution for permanent residence of children with special needs who require nurturing, assistance with daily needs and health issues, and social and labour adaptation.

For children with special needs, or special children as we prefer to call them, love and support are simply indispensable. Their development is greatly influenced by other people. The sisters’ ministry in this boarding home includes helping the children to take part in molebens and sacraments, telling them about God, organising drawing and modelling classes, playing development games and hiking. Volunteers are also involved in working with the children. There is a cartoon drawing club run by the Convent where these children make various handicrafts and create cartoons under teachers’ supervision. Apart from that, there is a drama club where the children can take part in various plays.

Any kind of support and any attention is as essential for the special kids as air.

The National Applied Research Centre of Pulmonology and Phthisiatry

There are people of all ages and walks of life in this centre. However, the majority of them are homeless, former prisoners, and alcoholics. It is extremely difficult to tell those who have such a huge burden of negative experiences, about God. Nevertheless, the sisters of mercy come here anyway. Reactions vary from open aggression to mockery. If just one out of twenty patients answers the call somehow, this is already a victory. There are more and more of such victories over the years.

There is a chapel in honour of St Luke (Voino-Yasenetsky) on the territory of this centre. It is hard to speak of the results of our ministry in this institution, which is awash in suffering and fear. We hope that the sisters’ efforts are not in vain: we can see souls being transformed.

Boarding Home for Mentally Challenged Adults and Elderly No. 3

This is a facility where elderly people and adults who suffer from chronic mental illnesses and require assistance and medical care stay permanenly.

The sisters of our Sisterhood visit Boarding Home No.3 and support its residents by helping them to prepare for Confession and Communion. Even if someone is unable to wrap his head about what is happening around him, spiritual laws are still in effect for him, albeit on a different level.

There is a chapel in honour of Holy Blessed Xenia of St Petersburg on the territory of the boarding home. People used to think that Saint Xenia was insane, while in fact she carried out a great mission of being a fool-for-Christ. Today St Xenia is the heavenly patroness of the chapel and all its parishioners. There is a Divine Liturgy and an Akathist to St Xenia of St Petersburg in this chapel every week.

The National Applied Research Centre of Mental Health

The National Applied Research Centre of Mental Health was established in Novinki in 2009 on the basis of the National Psychiatric Hospital. There are over thirty units in the centre now. Seizures, intellectual dysfunctions, phobias, neurotic disorders, psychosomatic disorders, alcohol and drug dependency are just a few of the diagnoses that bring patients to this centre. There is also a children’s unit in the centre for both adolescents and small children.

The word ‘mental’ derives from the Latin word ‘mens’ meaning ‘soul’ or ‘mind’. This means that people who for some reason became patients of the National Applied Research Centre of Mental Health require not only medicines but also mental and spiritual assistance. This is why the sisters of the Sisterhood in honour of St Elisabeth have carried out their ministry here since 1994.

Mental illnesses are illnesses of the soul, too. This is what our sisters tell the patients. They do not only help with everyday needs or support patients with kind words. The sisters are on a mission to tell the patients that their souls are alive and that there are spiritual methods (Confession and Communion) that can help their souls to cope with the illness or to find the power to carry this burden till the end.

Chronicle

2016

June – St Elisabeth Convent held From Heart To Heart Orthodox Festival in Europe for the first time.

June 1 — Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok, the spiritual father of the Convent, consecrated a new Pilgrims’ Centre.

April — Domes of the Church in honour of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco were consecrated and mounted during the Third Week of the Great Lent (Veneration of the Cross). This important event marked a new stage of construction of this church on the territory of the National Applied Research Centre of Mental Health in Novinki.

March 21 — A chapel was consecrated in the Student Village in Minsk. The Rev Andrew Malakhovsky, a cleric of St Elisabeth Convent, became the rector of the new parish.

March — A new choir called Rejoice started in St Elisabeth Convent. Its participants are lay sisters of the Sisterhood in honour of St Elisabeth.

March 3 - 13 — Kladez Festival of Orthodox Culture was held in the capital city of Belarus for the first time.

January 14 — The 2nd Niabiosy Festival of Batleika and Puppet Theatres opened, this time with a newly-gained international status.

2015

October 16 — Two Andrews, a film featuring Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok, the spiritual father of St Elisabeth Convent, was released.

October 7-8 — Daily worship cycle was celebrated in the Church in honour of St Sergius of Radonezh at the Women's Rehabilitation Centre near v. Nialidavičy for the first time.

September 29 — The Most Reverend Athanasius, Metropolitan of Limassol, visited St Elisabeth Convent.

August 26 — A contact zoo opened at the Men's Rehabilitation Centre in v. Lysaja Hara.

August 17 — The Most Reverend Pavel, Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl, the Primate of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, visited the men's and women's rehabilitation centres of St Elisabeth Convent for the first time.

January — A group of Orthodox Christians (among whom were several brothers and sisters of our Convent) began regular visits to Donbass with spiritual and humanitarian missions.

2014

November 13 — Road to Christ, an anonymous mutual aid group for people whose relatives suffer from various dependencies, was launched by the Convent.

November 1 — St Elisabeth Convent had a solemn celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Holy Martyr Grand Princess Elisabeth’s birthday.

October 12 — A particle of the relics of Saint John the Russian was brought to St Elisabeth Convent from Euboea Island.

White Flower, a charitable event in support of the homeless, was organised by the Convent for the first time in Minsk.

September 1 — Private Educational Institution IHVIS Kindergarten and Comprehensive School welcomed its first pupils.

September - Visiting Nurse Service started.

March 4 — The new Primate of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, the Most Reverend Pavel, Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl and the Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, visited our Convent for the first time. His Eminence led the Vespers with the Great Penitential Canon of St Andrew of Crete.

2013

October 8 — The first Divine Liturgy celebrated at the Women’s Rehabilitation Centre near v. Nialidavičy.

September 16 — Joyful Hearts Ensemble from the Boarding Home for Elderly and Less Able No. 3, directed by the sisters of St Elisabeth Convent, gave its first concert outside of the boarding home. It happened in the House of Love of Labour of St Elisabeth Convent, and after that, such performances became regular.

June — Equine therapy for sick children started at the Men’s Rehabilitation Centre of St Elisabeth Covnent in v. Lysaja Hara.

2012

September 16 — The nuns of St Elisabeth Convent had a meeting with the Most Reverend Michael (Donskov), Archbishop of Geneva and Western Europe (ROCOR).

March 5 — Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the Chairman of the Department of Foreign Church Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, visited St Elisabeth Convent on the Monday of the Second Week of the Great Lent.

2011

December 30 — The first moleben and akathist to the Pantanassa icon of the Mother of God, brought to St Elisabeth Convent from the Holy Mount Athos, was held in the Church in honour of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God.

November 15 — Archimandrite Ephraim, the Abbot of Vatopedi Monastery on Mt. Athos, visited St Elisabeth Convent.

October 25 — The relics of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco in the Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco, USA, were washed and redressed into a vestment made in the sewing workshop of St Elisabeth Convent.

August — The first book of sermons by Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok published in Serbia.

July 17 — The first Divine Liturgy celebrated in the lower church in honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs.

June — Construction of a building of the Sunday School began on the territory of St Elisabeth Convent

June 30 — a Women’s Rehabilitation Centre of St Elisabeth Convent was established near v. Nialidavičy, Minsk Raion. Soon it greeted its first residents.

2010

November 22 — A new church in honour of St Nectarios of Aegina built on the territory of the Boarding Home for Children with Special Needs. A Divine Liturgy was celebrated there for the first time.

October — Studio in honour of St John the Warrior and documentary film director Halina Adamovich produced The Nun, a film about Irina Denisova, a renowned church precentor (now Nun Juliania (Denisova)).

May 9 — The first tonsure into the Great Schema in the history of our Convent. Monk Paul (Polyak) became Schemamonk Peter.

April 10 — The First Royal Voice Festival of Orthodox Music was held during the Bright Week in the Church in honour of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God.

January 3 — Metropolitan Philaret consecrated the Church in honour of the Inexhaustible Chalice Icon of the Mother of God at the Men’s Rehabilitation Centre in v. Lysaja Hara and tonsured six brothers of our community.

2009

December 18 — Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok and the clergy of St Elisabeth Convent placed a particle of the relics of St Nicholas the Wonderworker into an ancient icon of this saint after an All-Night Vigil in honour of St Nicholas.

September — Icon Restoration Workshop established.

August 22 — St Elisabeth Convent celebrated its 10th anniversary. Rassaphore and Stavrophore tonsures were held.

April 25 — The first Divine Liturgy celebrated in the Church in honour of the Inexhaustible Chalice Icon of the Mother of God at the Men’s Rehabilitation Centre of St Elisabeth Convent in v. Lysaja Hara.

2008

October 25 — A visit of His Holiness Alexis II, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, to St Elisabeth Convent. His Holiness completed the rite of consecration of the Church in honour of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God. Abbess Euphrosinia (Laptik) and Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok were awarded diplomas from Metropolitan Philaret, the Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, as an acknowledgement of their work for the glory of the Orthodox Church.

October 18 — Metropolitan Philaret consecrated a new Church in honour of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God. His Eminence gave the Holy Bible as a gift to the library of the new church.

September 17 — A moleben to greet a particle of the relics of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco into our Convent was held. This sacred object was brought to our Convent by Archpriest Peter Perekrestov, a cleric of the Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco.

August 6-10 — The first Orthodox exhibition was organised by St Elisabeth Convent in Navahrudak with the blessing of the Most Rev Gurias, Archbishop of Navahrudak and Lida, and with the support of Navahrudak Raion Executive Committee. Similar exhibitions were also held in several other Belarusian towns until the end of summer. That was how Kladez Festival of Orthodox Culture began.

April 7 — The website of St Elisabeth Convent obitel-minsk.by launched.

2007

September — A new monastic dormitory finished.

January — Mosaic work in the Church in honour of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God completed.

2006

Spring — Studio in honour of St John the Warrior produced The Path of Love, its first documentary.

The first audio performance for children Wonderful Adventures of Varya and Gleb released by the audio studio of St Elisabeth Convent.

Restoration and gilding workshop of St Elisabeth Convent established.

2005

May 10 — Church in honour of the Resurrection of Holy Righteous Lazarus at the North Cemetery was consecrated and the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated there.

January 12 — St Elisabeth Church was consecrated. The Mother Superior of St Elisabeth Convent Nun Euphrosinia (Laptik) was elevated to the rank of an abbess.

2004

Autumn — Construction of the Church in honour of the Resurrection of St Lazarus at the North Cemetery finished.

Summer — Construction of a dormitory, a refectory, and a church began at the Men’s Rehabilitation Centre in v. Lysaja Hara. Sirin Breeding Kennel founded.

Spring — Design Studio established.

2003

December — The sisters of St Elisabeth Convent began reading the Incessant Psalter round the clock in St Nicholas Church.

August 14 — The Most Reverend Philaret, Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, visited the Men’s Rehabilitation Centre in v. Lysaja Hara for the first time.

2002

Autumn — Gold Embroidery Workshop established, followed by the Mosaic Workshop at the end of that year.

October 27 — Letters of St Macarius of Optina was the first book prepared for publication in the Publishing House of St Elisabeth Convent. Since then, the Publishing House has published many akathists, prayerbooks, biographies of saints, fairy tales, short stories, letters, talks, calendars, and diaries…

October 26 — The first Divine Liturgy celebrated at the Men’s Rehabilitation Centre in v. Lysaja Hara. A decision to build a Church in honour of the Inexhaustible Chalice icon of the Mother of God on the grounds of the Rehabilitation Centre was reached.

September — Weekly molebens with akathists to St Nectarios of Aegina started in the Boarding Home for Children with Special Needs.

May 14 — The groundbreaking ceremony for a Church in honour of the Resurrection of Holy Righteous Lazarus was held at the North Cemetery on the Radonitsa Day (Commemoration of the Dead). Metropolitan Philaret solemnly laid a capsule into the foundation of the new church and served a panikhida.

April 24 — Priest Andrew Lemeshonok, the spiritual father of the Convent and the Sisterhood, was elevated to the rank of an archpriest. Nun Euphrosinia (Laptik), Mother Superior of St Elisabeth Convent, became an abbess and was granted the right to wear a pectoral cross.

Metropolitan Philaret put a particle of the relics of St Nicholas the Wonderworker into the church icon of this saint.

Spring — Audio studio of St Elisabeth Convent prepared its first album release containing sermons and talks by the spiritual father of the Convent. Albums Chants of the Great Lent and Chants of the Holy Pascha (recorded in 1998-1999) with church chants performed by the Monastic Choir of St Elisabeth Convent were also released.

Architectural Projects Workshop established.

2001

November — Particles of relics of Holy Martyr Gabriel of Bialystok and St Luke of Crimea arrived at St Elisabeth Convent.

July — Nezabudka Orthodox Summer Camp opened at the Men’s Rehabilitation Centre in v. Lysaja Hara.

Spring — The Publishing House, as well as the audio and video studio in honour of St John the Warrior, were founded with the blessing of the spiritual father of St Elisabeth Convent.

Winter — Mural painting and then icon casing workshops began their work.

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2000

May 5 — Particles of relics of the Holy Optina Elders were brought to our Convent from Holy Optina Monastery. Soon our icon painters painted an icon of the Synaxis of Holy Elders of Optina. A fraternity in honour of Optina Elders was established.

April — Daily Divine Liturgies celebrated in St Nicholas Church, beginning with the Holy Week.

April 16 — The Most Rev Philaret laid a capsule into the foundation of a new church in honour of the Reigning icon of the Mother of God on the Laudation of Theotokos Day. On the same day, Archpriest Theodore Povny, the rector of the All Saints Parish in Minsk, together with his parishioners presented an icon of Holy Martyr Elisabeth with a particle of her relics to our sisters.

March 24 — First newly-built cells consecrated. There was a housewarming for the nuns.

Spring — The first brothers who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, released from prison, homeless and less able, come to the rehabilitation centre in v. Lysaja Hara.

1999

December 10 — The lower church in honour of St Nicholas the Wonderworker was consecrated. Two Rassaphore nuns became Stavrophores, and four novices became Rassaphore nuns.

September 27 — A cross was consecrated and elevated onto the dome of St Elisabeth Church on the Exaltation of Holy Cross Day.

August 22 — Birthday of St Elisabeth Convent. His Eminence Philaret, Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, tonsured Novices Larissa Leiko, Liya Shilenkova, and Helena Laptik into Rassaphore and blessed the Rev Andrew Lemeshonok together with Nun Elisabeth (Sysun) to establish a Convent in honour of the Holy Martyr Grand Princess Elisabeth.

April — Icon Painting workshop established.

Spring — Minsk District Executive Committee allocated a 120-hectare plot of farmland to the Sisterhood in village Lysaja Hara (19 mi from Minsk). That was how Men's Rehabilitation Centre was founded.

1998

August 23 — Helena Sysun took the veil with the name Elizabeth. It happened in v. Damašany in St John the Theologian Convent. She later became the first Mother Superior of St Elisabeth Convent.

Summer — Stone and Ceramic workshops established. Sunday School was founded.

April 12 — The first divine office held in the St Nicholas Church, which was being built. Since then, a Divine Liturgy has been celebrated in this church every Sunday.

February 6 — Metropolitan Philaret of Minsk and Slutsk consecrated the Holy Table of a chapel in honour of the Blessed Xenia of St Petersburg in the Boarding Home for Elderly and Less Able No. 3 (Minsk).

1997

December 13 — On his name day, the Rev Andrew Lemeshonok brought a particle of the relics of St Elisabeth from Jerusalem.

December 7 — The foundation of the first church in the Convent was laid on St Catherine’s Day.

Summer — Metropolitan Philaret blessed the construction of a church near the mental hospital in Novinki. However, the community had little money and the inhabitants of the neighbourhood opposed the construction. In order to shove off doubts, Father Andrew Lemeshonok went to his spiritual father,

Elder Nicholas Gurianov, who lived on Zalita Island. The elder handed him a bank note with a picture of a church on it (5 Russian roubles at that time) and said, “People will bring you more.”

May — Passers-by on the noisy streets of Minsk saw the sisters with donation boxes for the first time. They were collecting donations to build a church in Novinki.

1996

December 7 — The Sisterhood in honour of Holy Martyr Grand Princess Elisabeth was established in Minsk with the blessing of the Most Reverend Philaret, Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, the Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus. The sisters received a blessing to wear white vestments during a service held in Ss Peter and Paul Cathedral in Minsk.

September 27 — The first Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the Psychiatric Hospital on the Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross thanks to the sisters of the future Sisterhood. It was held in a hypnotarium – a place where people are treated with hypnosis.

Summer — The sisters started making white vestments to visit the ill. It marked the beginning of the sewing workshop.

April — The first moleben in the Psychiatric Hospital in Novinki (currently the National Applied Research Centre of Mental Health). There was a meeting after the moleben. During the meeting, the sisters decided to establish a Sisterhood in honour of Holy Martyr Grand Princess Elisabeth and ask for the blessing of the Most Reverend Philaret, Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, the Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus.