During her life, our patron saint Elisabeth Romanov founded the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent and its lay sisterhood. Its sisters went to some of the poorest quarters of 19th century Moscow, where pain and anguish reigned and darkness and desperation prevailed. They reached out to the people who felt pre-destined living as outcasts and had lost faith in their ability to change it. Yet this did not discourage our patron saint or the sisters. They knew that the image of God that lives in every man is indestructible, and can be restored in its original beauty.
The good works of the sisters of the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent continue to inspire us today. They remind us that God loves every man and woman and never loses hope for our salvation. Tirelessly, we bring into the world the light of His love.
The sisters serve among the sick and the suffering, the needy, the elderly and the lonely. They go out into the streets of Minsk and stand at our monastic stalls. Troubled souls often come to share their sorrows and misgivings with our sisters, and the effect can be wondrous. As says sister Raisa Shulga, «When you look someone in the eye and speak in plain and simple words, your souls become connected in unseen ways. The warmth and intimacy of such moments is something that is lacking in human communication nowadays."
Our sisters are of different ages and from various backgrounds. They are teachers, architects, musicians and health workers. Coming to the sisterhood was a life-changing moment for all of them. Every sister has a story to tell. They tell us how we can make sense of our sorrows and learn to cope with them by being there for someone in need and easing their pain. They show us how being a servant of another strengthens our faith and trust in our Lord. We hope that their stories will give you inspiration and strength of the spirit.
Galina Goncharova is a sister of charity at our Convent. She is also an inspired teacher of music and the leader of a musical group. In our interview, we discuss how her coming to God changed her life and gave it a new meaning.