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.
December 7: St Catherine's Day
An interview with Novices Yekaterina Sergeyeva, Yekaterina Davydovskaya, and Yekaterina Alexeyeva.
Novice Yekaterina Davydovskaya: At a certain point, you realise that there is a blessing from above for you to take this way. The Lord carried me to the Convent in His arms, and Father Andrew simply and easily said, “Come to the Convent with your belongings tonight.” Jesus himself made this decision, and I just submitted myself to His will, and I have been grateful to Him for choosing the very best path for me ever since.
Feelings, Part Three
Fragment of the Meeting of the Sisterhood on December 1, 2013
Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok: Each person passes through various times and emotional states in the course of her life. I would like to speak in defence of feelings: Although, naturally, I agree with the quotation “You should not trust yourself until you die,” we have to live anyway. If someone has got rid of all feelings, this does not make her spiritually advanced. Saint John of Kronstadt was an emotional man but all his emotions were directed towards pleasing God.
The Opportunity to Attend Liturgies in the Boarding Home Is the Reason to Go on With My Life
An interview with Nun Anastasia (Lashuk) on the day of St Nectarios of Aegina
Nun Anastasia (Lashuk): It must be possible to live like St Nectarios even today. There are people among us who undertake similar things. The Church is alive, and God acts within the people even up to now! You cannot do anything on your own but God can do everything. For instance, we can begin with little things: not refuse to help when asked...
Finding God, You Find Everything
An interview with Xenia Levsha-Hitz, deputy head of the sewing workshops of St Elisabeth Convent
Xenia Levsha-Hitz: I thought that I would take the veil as soon as my son grows up. Nevertheless, man proposes, God disposes. It turned out that my mother and my sister also came to work in the Convent. Here I met my husband, and we have been working together in our workshop for many years. My mother-in-law also carries out an obedience in the Convent. So here I found everything: a family, a job, and… grace.
Orthodoxy as Knowledge of Love
Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok
When we want to tell someone about Orthodoxy, it is very difficult for us to talk about it. The Protestants find thousands of persuasive words but we lack their eloquence. Why is it so? It is because Orthodoxy is to be seen. We realise that if God dwells inside us, if the grace of the Holy Spirit is present within us, words are unnecessary. The life and the image of a person who found the Love of Christ will be a testimony of God's victory and God's truth.
Feelings, Part Two
Fragments of the Sisterhood Meeting on December 1, 2013
Nun Maria (Derzhanovich): Living in a monastery, you learn that the main feeling you should have is mistrust of yourself. Regardless of how good and loving a person might be, if she trusts herself while doing her obedience, all those feelings cannot save her. After ten years in the convent, I see from my own experience, as well as from others' experience, that if you do not have this mistrust, you will not be able to lead the monastic life.
Shining Forth The Light
In the ward, there was a man named Andrew. He is deaf-mute and beside that he has many mental and physical handicaps like no fingers and he is very crippled overall. He looked very wretched but he was pleased to meet me. I told him that a priest would come to their ward the following day, and read a book on confession to him. It turned out that Andrew was the only one who confessed and took communion that day. The following week I opened the door to the ward...
Books as a Continuation of Liturgy
Giving people a chance to choose, showing them an alternative, helping them to distinguish between the natural and the spiritual. This has been the purpose of the Publishing House of St Elisabeth Convent, established in 2001. With prayer and the blessing of Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok, the spiritual father of the Convent, books filled with the light of God’s love and books where one can find answers to any questions have been published here for over a decade.
Peace Be With You!
Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok
When the Lord comes to a person, He brings her His peace: Peace to all! Peace to you! When the Lord enters that person’s heart, he pacifies her. Her heart starts to be thankful to God and inspired with the love that gives her the opportunity to build the Kingdom of God around herself, to spread the peace of Christ around. The peace of God is a gift of God to the person who got lost, who suffers, who is miserable and makes everyone around miserable, too...
The Twelfth Royal Voice
Nun Helena (Strashnova)
The Royal Voice Orthodox Music Festival took place in St Elisabeth Convent on October 18. It began with an introduction speech by Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok, the spiritual father of the Convent, who underlined the fact that we humans cannot be under constant pressure, we need consolation and relief. "Our concerts here are the kind of relief that is needed. They possess the spiritual beauty that is expressed not through a strict canon but through emotions and feelings…"
The Patron Saint's Day at the Women's Rehabilitation Centre
Incidentally, or rather providentially, the first stage of the construction of St Sergius of Radonezh Church at the Women's Rehabilitation Centre of St Elisabeth Convent was finished by the feast day of St Sergius. The walls of the first floor of the future church and a temporary roof to cover them had been built by that day. Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok, the spiritual father of the Convent, celebrated a Divine Liturgy here on October 8. For the residents of the Women's Rehabilitation Centre of St Elisabeth Convent, it was a morning to remember...
Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok
Monasticism means a permanent struggle and renunciation of one's ego. There was an Elder who, when asked about monasticism, took a skufia off his head, threw it on the ground and trampled it underfoot — that’s what a monk must be like, he said. A monastic is a person who has forgotten herself; she lives not on the earth but in the heaven already. Monasticism is a way of life where everything is subjected to the will of God and renunciation of sin...