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 - one for women and the other one for men.
Back in 1998, the Minsk District Executive Committee allocated 120 hectares of farmland for the Sisterhood of Saint Elisabeth Convent in a small village called Bold Mount (or Mount Lysaja). This is where the Rehabilitation Center for men was established.
It is here that men who have experienced difficult life situations (homeless men, ex-prisoners, drug and alcohol addicts, disabled and poor people) can find shelter. More than that, these men can change their lives and find God along the way.
Today, about 180 men live and work at the rehabilitation centre. The Convent provides them with the essentials like clothes, food, hygiene kits, medications and other necessary things.
Many men do not have enough food and clothes to live a comfortable life, but it is even worse when there is no God. Christ gives us the strength to keep going, to change and become better, to live through any circumstances.
That is why we believe our mission is to tell the men in the Rehabilitation Center about God, show them the way to Him.
Prayer and church services are in the heart of their lives while they live at the Center. To pray means to talk to God, but there is one thing that is much more than that. The Eucharist - Holy Communion - is the most important for every Orthodox Christian. The Eucharist allows these men to receive the Blood and Body of Christ and to become one with Him.
This is the reason why the men participate in the Liturgy every Saturday. They also get the chance to confess and receive the Holy Communion, which definitely gives them the strength to continue their fight with sin, to change. The Spiritual Father comes every Friday to talk to men and confess them during the night.
We have built a beautiful white church on the grounds of the Rehabilitation Center. On January 3, 2010, the Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk Philaret consecrated the church in honour of the Inexhaustible Chalice icon of the Mother of God. Now the men have the ability to attend prayer services every single day.< Men are also reading Encessant Psalter 24/7 in turns.
Labour therapy is another very important thing that the men practice at the Center. In fact, it takes up most of their time in between services and rest.
Every man is assigned obedience that they are good at or that they prefer. It can be working in the kitchen, growing vegetables, working with bees and collecting honey, taking care of animals like chickens, cows, horses, goats and donkeys, or even working at the Center's library. The men are able to learn to be responsible, to work, to be helpful to others.
Another important component of their rehabilitation is love. To see in these men an image of God and treat them respectfully is very essential. Seeing such a kind attitude towards themselves, these men, many of whom were orphans and didn't see any kindness in their lives, tend to open their hearts and respond with the same. They are learning to trust and love others.
Together with prayer and Holy Communion, labour therapy and love we bring these men closer to living a full and happy life with God, and it is exactly what our long-term goal is.
Many years have passed since Belarus was freed from fascism. But we hold close the memory of those who did not live to see the Victory. In our fast-paced world everything changes, but the truth. It is therefore important that the memory remains.