The Sisterhood, in honour of the Holy Martyr Grand Duchess Elisabeth, was established in 1994. We began with only a small group of lay sisters visiting the patients of the National Psychiatric Hospital. Twenty-six years later, we have over 300 lay brothers and sisters of Saint Elisabeth Convent and conduct multiple ministries following the example of their Patroness.
Our beginnings start with Father Andrey Lemeshonok, Spiritual Father of our Convent, who used to serve at a historical church in Minsk - the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul. He and several parishioners started to visit people with mental disabilities at the Psychiatric Hospital. Five years later, the Sisterhood was born and Saint Elisabeth Convent was established in 1999.
The sisters chose Saint Elisabeth as their heavenly patroness and intercessor because they were inspired by her feat. She dedicated her life to helping the poor and the sick, so the sisters wanted to follow her footsteps.
Saint Elisabeth once wrote:
“True happiness is something that neither men nor events can take from you. You will find it in Faith, in Hope and in Charity. Try to make those around you happy, and you will be happy yourself.”
The sisters believe in these words. This is why the three components of happiness -Faith, Hope and Charity are at the very centre of the Sisterhood.
Today, the lay Sisterhood is a part of Saint Elisabeth Convent. It is a community of God-loving Orthodox Christian women who desire to help those who need it the most - the sick and the poor, the homeless and the disabled. Sisters are distinguished by white habits that they wear above their clothes. The right to wear the habit is given by the Senior Sister with the blessing of the Spiritual Father of the Convent.
Every lay sister has obedience that best suits her abilities and talents. Some people like to work with children, others may prefer to help the elderly. Any help is much appreciated and welcomed.
The Gospel says:
“Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42)
This is exactly what the ministries of St Elisabeth Convent are all about. There are people out there who need help. And our sisters are there to provide that help with the best way they can.
First of all, the sisters help the homeless, poor and disadvantaged men and women. Saint Elisabeth Convent has established:
There those people can rebuild their lives by learning to work and finding God along the way.
Secondly, the sisters visit:
We call them God’s People because their pure hearts are always ready to get to know Christ and follow Him.
And, of course, we make sure to help those who are suffering from illnesses. We have:
Those many ministries are possible through the prayers of our heavenly intercessor Saint Elisabeth and the continuous support and generosity of our friends from all over the world.
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.