A Women’s Rehabilitation Centre of St Elisabeth Convent was established in 2011 near village Nialidavičy close to Minsk. The plan was to build a safe place where homeless, unemployed, disadvantaged women - from all kinds of difficult life situations - could find shelter and assistance.
The Center welcomes any woman who has made up her mind to change something in her life, to work, and to get to know Jesus Christ. The women are supervised and assisted by Nun Barbara, one of the monastics of our Convent. There are over 30 women who are living permanently at the Center.
Every woman that comes to the Center is assigned obedience according to her preferences and talents. Many of them were not used to labor and had to learn new skills. Nowadays the women work in the garden and in greenhouses, they grow fruits, vegetables and herbs, some of them do the cleaning, wash the dishes or cook in the kitchen, while others look after the animals such as goats, rabbits and chickens.
Another part of everyday life for the women in the Center are various handicrafts. They learn to sew and knit, they even make their own leather prayer ropes.
Being creative and working helps them to relax and overcome their past difficulties, as well as acquire new hobbies and skills that are always useful.
The women that come to live and work at the center are of very different backgrounds. Many of them have never had anything to do with Christianity before. But here in the Rehabilitation Center, they get a chance to find God and change their lives.
Prayer and church services mark the beginning and the end of each and every day of life in the Center. The women attend the Divine Liturgy every week. They also confess and receive Holy Communion. This is exactly what allows them to get to know Christ and get inspired to follow Him.
All of this is possible because the Convent has restored a beautiful wooden church on the grounds of the Center. The construction of the church in honor of Saint Sergius of Radonezh was finished last year and the interior works have started. The church is the heart of the Rehabilitation Center.
On the 8th of October, the Orthodox Church commemorates Saint Sergius, which means that the Center will also celebrate its patron saint feast day.
Saint Sergius of Radonezh is one of the most famous and loved orthodox saints. His life is a true example of piety and spirituality.
St. Sergius (born Bartholomew) was born in the 14th century in the Russian city of Rostov to a noble family. His parents blessed him and his brother to become monks. He was seeking reclusion from the world, so he spent some years living in complete isolation in a forest.
Later, he was tonsured and got the name Sergius. Other monks gathered around him, looking for his spiritual advice and guidance, so he founded a monastery which is now known as Sergiyev Posad.
Saint Sergius quickly gained fame all around Russia for his ascetic life, wonder-working, and compassion for the needy.
This is exactly why this particular saint is the patron saint of the Rehabilitation Center. We want to follow Saint Sergius’ footsteps, show the lost women a path that will lead them to God and give them a chance to change their lives.
The Convent is running two rehabilitation centres for men and women in difficult life situations who are struggling with alcohol and drug dependencies and have no home or family. Some 200 people are presently under their care.