Belarus: An Interesting Country

Please, have a look at some pictures from Belarus. It is a sort of picture of the day overview of my trip (17-28 October 2011). Follow the link and press on a picture to start the slideshow.

17-10-2011 - From Amsterdam-Schiphol to Minsk: boarding Belavia’s Canadair CL-600-2B19.

18-10-2011 – Lida, Grodno province. Frans Hoppenbrouwers (left) with Archimandrite Sergei Gajek, apostolic visitator to the small but busy Greek Catholic Church in Belarus. The Greek Catholic Church in Belarus is one of the partners of Communicantes.


18-10-2011 – A cliché that is being endlessly repeated in country guides, but… it is real and always heartwarming: local hospitality. No matter how poor people are, they want to share with you the best they have. 

18-10-2011 – Lida. Father Andrei Buinich of the smal Lida Greek Catholic parish of Saint Josephat of Polotsk. From the landing of the parish rectory, Father Andrei takes care of the internet presence of the the Greek Catholic Church. Visit Father Andrei’s website using Google Translator.

18-10-2011 – The Roman Catholic Saint Nicholas parish church of Netsech, Lida district, 1837. Young people are leaving the Belarussian countryside. The parish priest of Saint Nicholas caters to the needs of mostly aged parishioners. 

19-10-2011 – Prison chaplain Jesuit Father Kazimir Zylis is an old acquaintance of the Foundation Communicantes. With the support of Communicantes Father Kazimir works in several prisons in the Grodno province. Ask the sixty-seven year old Jesuit if he doesn’t find prison work frightening. Father Kazimir is likely to refer to the defiant way in which he would deal with communist bureaucrats in the 1980s: “I have no fear to go to prison, never had.”


20-10-2011 - The Redemptorist John Paul II church in Grodno. Building started in the 1990s on the edge of town, but today the church is at the centre of a large suburban neighbourhood. There are about 10,000 parishioners. Lots of activities are being organised: religious, educational, cultural and social. Could Communicantes lend a hand?

20-10-2011 – Berezovka, Grodno province. Sister Barbara Saynok is a trained nurse, who provides free basic medical care and advise for poor and needy. She is involved in the psychological formation of the clergy of the Grodno diocese as well. Communicantes helped her with a grant, so that she could further improve her skills as psychologist. As a kind of thank you, she had prepared some awesome pastry.

20-10-2011 – Berezovka. The glass factory seen from the parish rectory.


20-10-2011 – Grodno: Meeting with very enthousiast volunteers of the Christian Movement of Volunteers of Saint Nicholas in Vitebsk, Grodno branche.
(See below: 25-10-2011.)


21-10-2011 – Preserving often heavily damaged religious objects which survived the communist era (1920-1989): father Antonin in his ‘museum’ in the basement of the 17th century Brigittine church in Grodno’s city centre. 

21-10-2011 – “Please, tell me something about Belarus, I have just arrived”: Frans Hoppenbrouwers of Communicantes having a friendly discussion with the new apostolic nuncio in Minsk, Mgr. Dr. Claudio Gugerotti.

21-10-2011 – Minsk: Father Andrei Znosko. Father Andrei received a grant from Communicantes, so he could study law. Saturdays and Sundays he serves as a parish chaplain. Giving legal advise to people who live in the countryside, last summer, he participated in a project of Caritas Grodno.

22-10-2011 – The Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Mary, Freedom street, Minsk. The communists in the 1950s wanted to wipe out all memory of this Roman Catholic church: the bell towers were taken down and a new facade was put in place. In the 1990s the church was restored to its former glory.

23-10-2011 – Eleven sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth congregation were murdered by the German Gestapo during World War II. Beatified by pope John Paul II in 2000, their mortal remains now rest in the local parish church of the Transfiguration of Jesus opposite to their monastery in Novogrudek, Grodno province. Novogrudek, now a rural town, was once an important city of the powerful Polish-Lithuanian state union. The parish church saw in 1422 the marriage between Polish king Ladislaus II Jagiello and princess Sophia of Halshany, and in 1798 the baptism of Romantic Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz.

23-10-2011 – Modern day sisters don’t have to fear death or persecution, but life is far from simple. A lot of sisters are old and in need of good care, while a younger generation of sisters needs adequate formation and education to let their charisma speak in new circumstances.


23-10-2011 – Smargon: the Salesian Saint Michail’s church, youth choire of Saint Michail’s church and Father Alek SDB.

24-10-2011 – Minsk. Exploring collaboration. Mrs Elvira Polynevskaya and the chief economist explain the possibilities and impossibilities of the Roman Catholic “Pro Christo” publishing house.


25-10-2011 – Meeting with volunteers of a Communicantes project: The Christian Movement of Volunteers of Saint Nicholas in Vitebsk. For example, volunteers visit mental hospitals, or child care homes. First picture on the left: project manager and spiritual guide father Ales Shybeka. See website.

25-10-2011 – Together with old and new Belarusians: Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on an apartment building in the city of Vitebsk.

26-10-2011 - Father Ales Shybeka, his wife Ludmila (left), and volunteers at a meeting and prayer service for handicapped.

27-10-2011 – Just around the corner in Minsk: Independence Avenue 21 rubbing shoulders with Lenin Street 10.

28-10-2011 - The scenery at Minsk National Airport – leaving for the Netherlands on Belavia’s Canadair CL-600-2B19.