We follow in the footsteps of our Convent's patron in heaven, Saint Elisabeth, and helping disadvantaged poor people is a large part of our mission. At our farmsteads, we offer people in difficult life situations shelter, work, food and clothing, a chance to change their lives and an opportunity to meet God. We have established two farmsteads near Minsk - one for women and the other one for men.
The farmstead for men occupies 120 hectares of farmland, which the government of Minsk region allocated for the Sisterhood of Saint Elisabeth Convent in 1998. About 180 residents are living and working here at present. Most have a history of homelessness, criminal convictions, drug and alcohol abuse. The Convent provides them with essentials like clothing, food, hygiene kits, or medications.
The monastic farmstead for women was established in 2011 near Nelidavichy village close to Minsk. Here, the women in difficult life situations can find shelter, sustenance and assistance. It is open to any woman who is willing to change her life, learn useful skills, and grow in the spirit. There are over 30 women residents here at present. Many are homeless and suffer from alcohol and drug problems. Some come with criminal records and after long periods of unemployment.
In both farmsteads, every resident is assigned obedience - a work for which they have skill or that they prefer. Men can work in the kitchen, the garden, the bee yard, or take care of the animals - chickens, cows, horses, goats and donkeys. The farmstead has a library, and some can work there. Women can work in the garden and greenhouses, growing fruits, vegetables and herbs. Some do housekeeping, while others look after the animals such as goats, rabbits and chickens. It is also possible to engage in various handicrafts. The women learn to sew, knit, and even make their leather prayer ropes.
Through work, the men and women can learn to be responsible and helpful to others. Daily work brings order to their lives, helps them overcome their past difficulties, and acquire useful hobbies and skills.
Our Lord teaches us not to condemn, and to celebrate the coming back of each repentant sinner like the Father rejoiced at the return of His prodigal son. We see ourselves as the instruments of God's love. We believe in His miraculous power to transform people, warm the coldest of hearts and teach them to love and trust for others.
Prayer and worship are central to our life at the farmstead because no-one can build a life other than on the solid rock of faith. Our mission is to show the men the way to Him. We teach them to have a conversation with God through prayer, and let them become one with Him by receiving the Blood and Body of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Spiritual Father comes every week to talk to the residents and hear their confessions. Prayer, the Holy Communion, work and God's love are bringing the men closer to living a full and happy life with God, which is our hope and long-term goal.
Alexander Vikovitsky had to abandon his career in sport because of a severe injury, and his life took a sharp turn for the worse. He was falling rapidly into an abyss. We interviewed Brother Alexander about his work at the farmstead, his faith.
We follow the footsteps of our Convent’s heavenly patroness, Saint Elisabeth, therefore helping disadvantaged poor people is one of our top priorities. We have established two rehabilitation centers near Minsk - for women and for men.