The Women’s Rehabilitation Center (Metochion) of St Elisabeth Convent was established near the village of Nialidavičy in 2011. Women in difficult life situations can find shelter and assistance here and include the homeless, the unemployed and former prisoners.
Often people just do not have a place to go and this place allows them to pause and reflect on their life, and then it depends on the individual, where some may leave the metochion the next day, and some – the next week.
The road to the metochion is the same for all the women, as a rule: Having received the blessing from the spiritual father of St Elisabeth Convent, they travel to Nialidavičy together with the sister in charge. They get to know one another in a very simple way, usually during the breakfast. There is no coenobitic rule at the metochion just yet.
However, its simplified variant exists in the form of a timetable that hangs on the door of a fridge in the refectory. There is nothing too supernatural in it; the activities queue in a very logical way: prayer, work, meals.
Everyone who made up their mind to change something in their lives can put their abilities to work here. The obedience includes all household chores, which are divided amongst all. Handicrafts are made when necessary, including knitting socks and mittens to meet the needs of the women. In the past doormats were made for the guesthouse at the male metochion and sewn towels for the sewing workshop. They also put together wedding sets.
In other words, they do the jobs that do not require a lot of space, which the women simply do not have. They are also involved in sorting the moss for the walls of the wooden church in honor of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, and they are doing it in an old bomb shelter that the soldiers left behind. The sisters also work in the fields, and look after domestic animals including hens, rabbits, and goats.
The life of the residents is not limited to physical work. The day begins and end with prayer and they pray throughout the day as well.
Divine Liturgies have been celebrated in the rehabilitation center every Tuesday since October 2013 and recently in the basement of a burned down church in honor of St Sergius of Radonezh. The sisters have been reading akathists to St Sergius of Radonezh daily, asking the saint to help in the restoration of the church in his honor, which began in spring of 2014.
The rehabilitation center is a territory that belongs to God; grace dwells here and penetrates into human hearts, making them think about God, repent, and lead a different life. Each person bears God’s image. Every individual is like a damaged icon that reveals her bright face to the extent that she is purified from sin through repentance.
We need to do our best to help people become pure, to start seeing God’s image within them, and to make an effort into fighting their sins and passions. This is not an easy task, so we cannot do it on our own, without God’s help and the support of our neighbors.