Dear Friends, with your help, we were able to implement several projects in the past year. Thank you very much for your support!
We have brought together the most joyful and significant events that took place at our Convent in 2022, as well as some of our plans for the future.
In April, we had several new Rasophore and Stavrophore tonsures conferred not only on our Sisters but also on several brothers who have been working at the Convent almost from its very foundation. Due to the lack of a separate facility, the brethren are currently living at the Convent guest house. It is in our plans however to establish a men's monastery in Minsk or its environs.
After monastic tonsure
At Easter last spring we were once again allowed to visit patients in hospitals and boarding homes after a two-year “Covid” break. These two years have shown us how much our ministry meant to us and them. In the words of one of our lay Sisters, “Simply standing on the grounds of the boarding home was like a breath of "spiritual air". The joy was overflowing. You don’t feel this kind of joy in everyday life”.
We can now re-establish contact with the sick and hold prayer services. Our priests hear confessions and give communion to people, many of whom are participating in the church sacraments for the first time.
We continue arranging gifts and treats for the patients of the Mental hospital and the boarding homes' residents. We also dream of building a country house for the recreation of children with special needs.
Bringing Holy Communion to the Sick in Hospital
The construction of the "Ark" convention centre began in August 2012. Our spiritual father Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok then called it the front line of our Convent's spiritual struggle “It is a part of our hard work that we feel we must pursue to make a difference to the life of the city and its people," he said.
In a world that emphasises consumption and pleasure, and with a culture that is losing spirituality, the Ark will offer a welcome alternative. It will host theatrical performances, festivals, exhibitions and film shows that bring enlightenment and spiritual meaning to our inner world.
It will be an island of a different life, free from self-indulgence, slavery to momentary desires, neglect of traditional values and the view of children and family as unnecessary burdens.
"The Ark" is still undergoing interior finishing work. However, in August it opened the doors of its spacious cafeteria offering delicious homemade food prepared fresh every day.
The Convention centre has already hosted the Orthodox Joy Festival, as well as various thematic meetings and activities for children organised here every week.
In the future we are planning to make the Ark a home for creative workshops for children and adults, as well as concerts, exhibitions, master classes and stage performances.
As you can see, we still have much work and expense ahead of us.
Let us build "The Ark" together
On September 26, 2022, Metropolitan Benjamin of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, consecrated the church in honour of St. Nektarios of Aegina on the territory of an orphanage served by our Convent.
Our Sisters praying in the church of St. Nektarios have been fulfilling their difficult service for over twenty years, visiting this orphanage and sharing with the children living there the love that they so much need.
“St. Nektarios of Aegina was very fond of children. His life was difficult, and so are the lives of these children. We hope that through their prayers the Lord will give us an opportunity to correct our own mistakes in life,” says Priest Valery Zakharov, who serves at the church of St. Nektarios, offering spiritual care to the people fulfilling the ministry at the orphanage.
Every Friday, Father Valery serves an akathist to St. Nektarios, and on Saturdays he celebrates a liturgy for the orphanage children.
Father Valery Zakharov by the Church of St Nectarios of Aegina
You may have already heard about our Сonvent's Children's and Youth Choir. The choir led by Matushka Maria Bakhvalova gives charity concerts (including online ones), and sings during Divine Liturgies at the Convent.
In 2022, their dream came true. The choir went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Trinity Sergius Lavra. The children were finally able to bow to the relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh, whom they chose as their heavenly patron 8 years ago.
Their trip also included a visit to the Optina Hermitage, Shamordino Convent, St. Thekla Hermitage and the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow. At the Optina and Donskoy Monasteries, the choir took part in two Liturgies.
The Lord arranged everything in such a way that the children arrived at the Lavra on the eve of the celebrations dedicated to the feast day of St Sergius. They had a very interesting tour and were even able to venerate the uncovered relics of the Saint.
The young choristers treated themselves to wonderful monastery kvass and delicious pies. In their free time, the group enjoyed an improvised walking tour around Moscow city centre.
The Children's and Youth Choir of St Elisabeth Convent
In December 2022, our documentaries were awarded participant diplomas at the XVI Nevsky Blagovest Christian Film Festival.
The film Nun Martha and Her Children directed by Valery Shishov tells of the ministry fulfilled by our Nuns and lay Sisters in hospitals and residential homes.
Watch a short excerpt from this film.
The film Artist and His Muse by Anastasia Kobzareva is a bright story about a modern Orthodox family with its joys and problems.
This film was awarded a "Best Short Film" diploma at the IX Palm Festival dedicated to Social Advertising for Life and Family.
St Elisabeth Convent’s Diplomas of International Festivals
Last year, we released three electronic books by our spiritual father Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok, which we have also translated into English and French.
These books are about confession, communion, prayer, parenting and other topics that concern every Christian.
We published these books in response to numerous requests from our readers abroad that love Fr. Andrey and have long been asking us to translate his sermons and spiritual instructions.
You can obtain these three books today for a small donation that will help us expand our ministry, help more vulnerable people and acquire the needed supplies.
Most importantly, your donations help us continue to spread the wisdom of the Orthodox faith through the word of our pastor.
We are now working on a new book titled "Cooking Like a Nun" that will contain culinary recipes popular at our Сonvent. We would like to bring you some tasty and healthy ideas for Lenten meals in time for Great Lent.
We are currently at the stage of editing the book and designing the layout of the electronic version. We would greatly appreciate your help at this time. We ask you to donate towards the release of our new cookbook. You can support us by following this link:
May the Lord bless you abundantly.
Sister Anastasia and the Sisters of Saint Elisabeth Convent.