Belarus

Visits in November 2010

More than 500 young adults in Belarus are preparing to take part in the European meeting in Rotterdam. Since the autumn, they have been meeting in parishes of different denominations in order to get things under way. One of the brothers was able to take part in several of these meetings during a visit to Belarus in November.

“Last year, I was able to visit several cities in the East of the country; this year I went to the West: Maladechno, Pinsk, Minsk, Baranovitchi… The songs of Taizé in the Belarusian language ring out everywhere during the prayers in the churches. In Baranovitchi, an afternoon meeting with Bible introduction and sharing was organised in the parish centre. Like elsewhere, the meetings were very joyful and showed how people are looking forward to coming together soon with young people from throughout Europe in Rotterdam.

Groups of young Orthodox from Belarus having been coming to Taizé regularly for some time now. Among those who came this summer were several seminarians. They invited me to visit their seminary in a monastery in the small town of Zirovitchi. The monastery was founded in the XV century in the place where a miraculous icon had appeared. It was the only monastery that was able to function during the soviet period. The welcome at the monastery was very warm. At sun rise early in the morning, the chanting of the seminarians and the monks, gathered in the great church for morning prayer and the liturgy, welcomes the numerous pilgrims. A meeting in the evening made it possible for me to share with the seminarians about their experiences at Taizé and above all about the common life.

For some years now there have been contacts and exchanges between the seminary and theology universities in several countries, which allow the students to spend one or two years of study abroad. The experience they acquire is much appreciated for building up the church… Recently an initiative has come forward for bringing together experts from different denominations to work on a translation of the Bible in the Belarus language.”


A pilgrimage in November 2009

One of the brothers preparing the meeting in Poznań recently made several visits in Belarus. Here are some of the echoes he shared during his journey.

My pilgrimage in Belarus is coming to an end. Tomorrow morning I shall be on my way back to Poland. Today I shall be, once again, at the country’s most important Orthodox monastery.

This journey has truly been one of great richness and diversity. Everywhere that I have been, I have met with a very warm welcome. The Christians; the young people, the priests, and the bishops are very moved by these visits.

Beautiful prayers with songs of Taizé in some of the churches: with a small number of people in the little towns or with a few hundred in the cathedral at Minsk. Orthodox liturgies in packed churches and meetings with young Orthodox people in the parishes, at the theological institute, or with young people who are trying to be involved in the life of society.

I was also able to visit four Orthodox bishops, unannounced. Two of them were so moved that they took me straight away to visit several new churches, so that I almost missed my meeting in another church that evening…

Yesterday I was able to meet Metropolitan Filaret who received me warmly, despite his age and tiredness… He took his time… He remembers well his two visits to Taizé and he supports the visits and participation in our meetings of young Orthodox people. He said that he is grateful to have met during his life several Christians from other denominations with whom he had had a deep friendship; because of their love for the Church which did not wish to erase the treasures present in each tradition. According to him, it is only together that Christians in their diversity can radiate the face of Christ. He sent his greetings to all the community.

We must pray a lot for this country. …

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