Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2)
Our convent bearing the name of St Martyr Grand Princess Elisabeth was founded in the settlement of Novinki on the outskirts of Minsk in 1999. The convent originated in an Orthodox Sisterhood of the same name. Since 1996, the Sisterhood has served many care centers, including the National Psychiatric Hospital and Municipal Hospital as well as boarding homes for children and adults with special needs, a TB clinic and a home care facility for mentally challenged children.
The mission of our convent is to provide spiritual and social help to the sick and the suffering. The Convent runs a homestead located 19 miles from Minsk. It helps drug and alcohol addicts as well as socially vulnerable persons tackle their problems and provides the homeless with shelter and care.
To support and develop the above ministries numerous workshops and studios operate within the frameworks of the Sisterhood. These include an icon-painting studio, sewing and embroidery shops, candle workshop, wood-carving and blacksmith workshops. The Sisterhood activities also include religious education and publishing.
The convent and sisterhood have always worked together in serving God and people.
Sisters and brothers of the convent pray for each other daily. On Sundays, after singing the akathist hymn to the St Elisabeth, the brothers and sisters share their experiences in serving people and discuss spiritual issues. All decisions regarding the activities of the convent and the sisterhood are made with the blessing of the convent’s spiritual father, Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok. Full cycle of divine services is held in the churches of the convent and the Psalter is read continuously.
She Is So Close To Us...
It will not be an overstatement to say that the most remarkable event in our Convent last week was the feast of the patron saints of the Convent, the holy martyrs Grand Princess Elisabeth and Nun Barbara, which we celebrated on July 18. Due to the fact that St Elisabeth Church is currently being renovated, the services were held in the church in honour of the Reigning icon of the Mother of God, making the feast even more solemn. This is symbolic because we are going to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Grand Princess and the 15th anniversary of our Convent this year. Our photojournalist took some photos of this event.
The Breath of Fresh Air in a Hospital Ward
Stories of the Sisterhood
Sister Marina Jaskievič: I recall one young man who had 70 per cent of total skin area burned. It was God's mercy that we managed to prepare him for confession and communion quickly. He started partaking of the Sacraments regularly. He spent eight months in hospital and led a devoted spiritual life, relying solely on God. One day I came and saw Sergei walking towards me! It was like the real Pascha for me! Christ is Almighty. He always gives us everything according to our faith…
Let Us Restore St Sergius Church
It was God’s Providence that the restoration of a church in honour of St Sergius of Radonezh in the vicinity of Nialidavi?y – Kasy? – Vi?nie?ka (12 mi from Minsk, heading to Miadziel), which was completely destroyed by fire in 2011, just before it was handed over to St Elisabeth Convent, began on the 700th anniversary of St Sergius, the patron saint of the church. The project of the new church is finished, and the timber is ready… The church is being built, albeit not as fast as we would like it to. We invite you to take part in the restoration of this church!
The House of God's Grace
By Helena Gulidova
I would like the ill and their relatives to find consolation in this church, to find God and call unto him. When we read the biography of St John of Shanghai, we can see that this man always wanted to live with God. He had to face the same problems that we do, and he was seeking God's will even in the elementary daily routines. It was his constant prayer and his search for God's will that made him a saint.
Praying Means Shedding One's Blood
Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok
Today we give thanks to the Lord for having such an intercessor, and for this church in honour of St Nicholas, which was the first church of our Convent consecrated by our Metropolitan. Our sisters pray to this friend of God incessantly. They try to read the akathist to him and pray for each other to be empowered by the Lord to carry on with their hard work for God's sake, every day, though sometimes they fail to do so, because praying really means shedding one's blood.
When Strangers Become Close
Stories of the Sisterhood
Sister Nina Sandovich: Only four persons expressed their willingness to be baptised. However, we witnessed some more miracles, you know! While we were preparing for the Sacrament of Baptism, there was a man who came to the boarding home with his son. There is a unit in the boarding home where it is possible for the relatives to take the patients out into their families for a while. That man and his son came back to the hospital at the very moment when we were getting ready...
The XI Orthodox Music Festival "The Voice of the Reigning"
Nun Helena (Strashnova)
The Voice of the Reigning Festival of Orthodox Music took place in St Elisabeth Convent last Saturday. It was opened by Archpriest George Latushko, the rector of SS Peter and Paul Cathedral (Minsk). According to Father George, he is glad that such a festival exists because it is not just a concert but an opportunity to feel the beauty of church singing and church life in general. It is an inexhaustible source of inspiration we all need on our road to salvation.
A Premiere for the Little Ones
We are hard to surprise. The entertainment industry works so well that a viewer does not have enough time to get familiar with new animation characters and animated film series... Cartoons are no longer as special as they were for us, the children of the past generation. However, a disc of the animation studio of St Elisabeth Convent, called “For the Little Ones”, just like everything else created in the Convent with prayer and love, is meant to break this stereotype.
We Must Sing to the Lord
Our souls long for Pascha! Our souls are looking forward to the festive chants and the inspiring “Christ is Risen!” outcry... Soon, very soon this all-embracing joy will touch our hearts. Even if for some of us it is transient, focused primarily on the Paschal Night, it will still empower us to breathe and live on! Of course, it is more difficult to rejoice than to repent; giving thanks is harder than grumbling... Nevertheless, we have to learn to do this...
Remember Jesus Christ!
From “The Spiritual Talks with Archimandrite Luke (Anič)”
Father Luke: Our life on earth is only preparation and the starting point of our uninterrupted and constant growth in the Lord. Therefore, remember Jesus Christ! Remember Him in everything you do, every moment of your life. Remember Him – and He will shine through your actions, He will shine through you, and everyone will see that you live for something different from the temporary and earthly cares – for the sake of the eternal and the imperishable, which is in fact our genuine aim.
A Place You Want To Run Away From...
Stories of the Sisterhood
Sister Lubov: I recall how one man disliked me to such an extent that he would literally push me out of his ward. So one day I came to him, bent over, and said, “Please forgive me for annoying you... I see that you lose your temper because of me.” He softened a little, and then we even became friends! The fact that these people are so unfriendly may be caused by their pain, fears, and sorrows, and we must always bear this in mind.
Clothed in the Garments of Light...
Nun Helena (Strashnova)
The First Week of the Great Lent... It is hard and at the same time full of joy. It is hard for the flesh but good for the soul. Our souls are brides during the Great Lent. The Lord clothes them in the garments of fast and prayer. Thanks to ascetic efforts, our feelings are renewed, our hearts are purified, our minds become capable of perceiving divine truths. The First Week of Lent in St Elisabeth Convent is always the time of special unity in joint prayer for the brothers and the sisters...