"At a certain age, one way or another, you begin to wonder about the meaning of life. Whatever the world offers becomes insufficient. You see that there is much grief and injustice surrounding you. On the other hand, you see that your own carelessness and lack of judgement, contrary to your good intentions, has brought many difficulties to people. When you realize this, you begin to look for some inner resources to support you in life. You try to find some explanation to tie it all into some kind of philosophy... This is the beginning of your search for Christ. You may not yet understand what it is that you are looking for, but you are looking for Him. This is usually a time of philosophical reflections (often scholastic), none of which are able to give you a sense of purpose in life until you open the church doors, and the soul finally receives true inner joy. As you grow stronger in faith, you begin to understand the sorrows around you and your own life situations better and better. You begin to experience the need to be in tune with the newly revealed beauty of God, so that everything inside you is pure and beautiful. It is not easy to start building your life this way, but you are already beginning to understand that you are on the right path... A desire arises to devote your life completely to the eternal. This is what my coming to the Church and my search for God was like.”
Priest Andrey Malakhovsky
“I graduated from the Minsk Radioelectronics Institute. When I came to faith, I was already working at the Academy of Sciences. I was making my first steps in church life during extramural studies at the Institute of Beekeeping in the city of Rybny, Ryazan Region. Today I consider these steps very important. During the exam period, I had an opportunity to visit churches and monasteries. Of these, I was particularly influenced by the Holy Trinity Sergius Lavra, the hermitage of Gethsemane, and St. John the Theologian Monastery in the village of Poshupovo. When I graduated from the institute, I realized that my new profession would not satisfy me either. I had an irresistible desire to participate in the restoration of a church. As it later turned out, it was also the revival of my soul... I started to help in the church, and after six months, it became my only occupation. In the early 1990s, everything was meager and lacked elegance. There were construction sites all around, and the churches, which had just been returned to the Church by the state, looked very poor. There was not a hint of today's splendor, but this was quite consistent with the state of my soul. There was no splendor there either, so I perceived the appearance of the churches harmoniously. The restoration of churches coincided with the restoration of my inner world.”
“While working at the Academy of Sciences, I became interested in mountain tourism, skiing and kayaking. I have never been particularly attracted or excited by material possessions. It does not make sense to me to buy more and more things. This is why hiking and mountains became my source of inspiration and consolation. I have been able to visit the Kuril Islands, Siberia, the Crimea, the Carpathian Mountains and the Khibiny. My experience with kayaks has mainly been in Belarus. Once I had a chance to go on a training trip on rafts along the rivers of Karelia. I met my wife on our first trip to the Carpathian Mountains. For her, hiking has never been a serious occupation, but rather a hobby of her youth, an exploration and test of herself and the world, a training of the will.
Father Andrey during a hike with parishioners of the Convent
We passed on our passion to our son who enjoys outdoor activities. We go on mountain hikes to the Caucasus together. We enjoy walking, sightseeing and talking. I believe that such rest does not come at the expense of spiritual life. Every person needs a rest for the soul, a time to stop, a respite, and a chance to touch the splendor and greatness of God's creation. Together with the parishioners, we organize kayak trips around Belarus. This summer, for example, we were only kayaking for three days, yet people shared that they had a good rest that felt like a full vacation. Remembering the well-known expression “movement is life”, I can say that some people on these trips are even healed of their infirmities. One of the participants had been unable to raise his hand for two years and completely forgot about his illness after working with oars in a kayak. The hand movements when operating a kayak are different from the ones we use every day. This must be why it helped. And, of course, the beauty of camping is the close, informal interaction...”
“Nothing comes easy in life. In any sphere you need to force yourself to achieve a good result. I'm constantly reminded of my inadequacy to the job to which God has assigned to me... But it is much harder when there is no job to do.”
Father Andrey's ministry at the Convent consists of fulfilling many duties. His "focus areas" include the house church of blessed Xenia of Petersburg, located in a Residential care facility for the elderly and people with mental disabilities; the National Tuberculosis Center; a Chapel of St. Luke (Voyno-Yasenetsky); a juvenile reception center; and the house church of the "Quick to Hear" icon of the Mother of God at the spiritual and educational center of the Belarusian State Medical University. His previous responsibilities include the spiritual guidance of a Sunday school, a youth group in honor of the Saints Faith, Hope, Love with their mother Sophia; a correctional facility in the city of Novopolotsk, the 2nd City Clinical Hospital and the National Mental Health Center.
“I have been serving at the boarding home for the disabled for about 25 years. During this time, a small community has formed around the church of St. Xenia. It unites the Convent sisters, the workers of the boarding home and its residents. We have learned to share our joys and sorrows together. A good thing about serving in the Tuberculosis Center is that its patients remain there for six months or more, a sufficient period for catechizing.
Fr. Andrey Malakhovsky serving the Liturgy in a boarding home
The children at the juvenile reception center differ from one another, but the overall picture inspires hope that our society is recovering. Although drugs remain a common sin among schoolchildren, it seems to me that society is changing for the better in this sense. Previously, a large number of the children here were juvenile delinquents. Today, we have become more attentive to children: a child skipping classes is immediately taken under supervision and may even be assigned to a specialized school as a preventive measure. Skipping classes is a telltale sign that will result in nothing good and may lead to some serious sin. Every Thursday, we hold a prayer service in the Convent's St. Nicholas Church. We pray for the suffering and read the akathist in front of the Inexhaustible Chalice icon of the Mother of God. These services are typically attended by the relatives of dependent people, the so-called co-dependents. Some of them have spent many years regularly praying for their loved ones. These people do not give up and continue coming to church to read the akathist. Clearly, I would like their lives to change for the better, but this is not an easy struggle, and it takes much effort...”
Fr. Andrey during the akathist in front of the "Inexhaustible Chalice" icon of the Mother of God
Several times a month, Father Andrey Malakhovsky comes to a chapel, located in the Belarusian State Medical University campus. The future doctors chose the Mother of God as their patroness, and the church was consecrated in honor of Her icon “Quick to Hear”. On November 22 they are celebrating the patronal feast . “As a rule, students coming here have already made their first steps towards faith,” Father Andrey says. “Communicating with them is much easier than it usually is in a student environment where disbelief and scepticism reign. The attendance here is quite low, and this is the most difficult test in this ministry.”
Father Andrey Malakhovsky serving at the State Medical University
Liturgy is served in the chapel every two weeks, and every Monday students pray here together with the Convent's lay sisters.
The chapel has a congregation of students who come here regularly, sing and help organize the services. These young people look forward to their meetings with Fr. Andrey and the spiritual conversations they have. For many of them, the priest became a spiritual father. Father Andrey sees how the students are changing. “It is important to have a good heart,” he says. “You can have a lot of knowledge, but not have love. Any person needs a foundation to begin to serve God through people. If it exists, then you will be able to do everything else: get up a little earlier, sacrifice something, and serve your neighbor not as a mercenary, but as a close person.”
Let us support Father Andrey and his small community. You can submit your prayer notes marked "Quick to Hear" (Liturgy or Akathist) using the following link:
We also invite you to take a look at the hand-painted icons of the Mother of God “Quick to Hear”, made by the sisters of our convent.