The guests from the Catholic spiritual center Bethanie, who came to our Convent last week, are living in small community in a village near the city of Metz in the North-East of France. Earlier, Nun Barbara from this center has already visited our Convent. The sister who is rather attentive to the spiritual aspects of life, has noticed the beauty of Orthodox services then. And now, together with the Very Rev. Pascal, their spiritual father, and other members of the community, they are going to spend almost a week in our Convent.
The guests’ acquaintance with the Orthodox culture began with the visiting our Pilgrim’s House where they were hosted. In the refectory of the house they could find a lot of icons of Belorussian saints, while Nun Juliania (Denisova), with whom the visitors wanted to meet very much, told them about the church singing, some features of Orthodox liturgics and of course about the main facts of the Convent’s history. The pilgrims were rather interested in the missionary works of St. Elisabeth Convent and especially in open rehearsals in church singing, that are held by Nun Juliania in various countries of the world. Being quite impressed, they asked her to organize such event in France.
The guests were also astonished with the story about the life of Fr. Andrew Lemeshonok, the spiritual father of our Convent. His path to God and his personal meeting with God were uneasy – from the keeper of the Holy Spirit Cathedral in minsk during the soviet time to the spiritual father of St. Elisabeth Convent, that was built from nothing in a remote place near several hospitals 20 years ago. The ministry of Fr. Andrew and the sisters of mercy touched their feelings, too: they learnt about the rehabilitation activity that is organized by the sisters at our rehabilitation centers for men and women and visited special workshops aimed at social rehabilitation of people.
The French pilgrims are going to visit the holy places of Minsk and its suburbs. What is more, they would like to learn more about the traditions of church singing. In truth, they sing wonderful as well. The pilgrims had an opportunity to listen to the singing of our sisters at the service that was served in the church in honor of Holy Royal Martyrs. A small crypt church, lightened up with candles only and little people inside – that service was fulfilled with kind of a home and family atmosphere. Then, our guests will visit some more services where they will have an opportunity to listen to the brethren’s choir and their Znamenny chant and Balaam singing.