Construction of a monastery complex and pastoral centre for the Capuchin Brothers in Molodechno
As early as 1990, directly after the political changes in Eastern Europe, the Capuchin Brothers came to Belarus. Today they number over 40 brothers and are thus the largest community of Catholic religious in this country, which until 1991 was still a part of the old Soviet Union. More than half of the brothers are already ordained priests. Brother Andrei Zylewicz, the Vice-provincial, writes: “Only five of the Capuchin brothers are from Poland; the rest are all Belarusian. This bears testimony to the fact that the Capuchins have now become an integral part of Church life in Belarus and are making a very important contribution to the life of its society in the current extremely difficult conditions.” But, “the transmission of genuine Christian values and a Christian worldview still represents a major challenge for the Church in the constantly changing society of our country,” he adds.
The Capuchins are active in seven different parishes and place a particular emphasis on youth work. They give religious and catechetical instruction not only in the parishes, but also in the schools, kindergartens and schools for the blind. They also organize summer camps for children and young people. “For many children, this is the only opportunity they have for spending their holidays outside the towns,” writes Brother Andrei.
In the town of Molodechno, where the Capuchins have been working since 1998, some 200 children and 40 young people take part in the summer camps. This fact alone shows just how great the interest is in the work of these Franciscan brothers. This is a town of 100,000 souls of whom between 20% and 25% are Catholics. Initially, the Masses were celebrated in the open air, in front of a cross, and then later inside an army tent. Eventually a chapel was built where they now not only celebrate Holy Mass but also hold catechetical sessions and other activities for children and adults. A tiny separate side room had been intended for the use of the priests themselves.
However, by now these temporary premises are no longer big enough for the many activities of the parish or for the conventual life of the Franciscan Capuchins. And so they have decided to build a larger monastery complex, combined with a pastoral centre. ACN is proposing to help with a contribution of $ 34,000 .
We hope this series of articles about Eastern Europe captured your interest and we would like to invite you to make comments! May God keep you!