by Karen Maskiew.
In mid-April, the director of the house, Katia Lesage, left Russia to attend the directors meetings in Combermere and to visit her mother who has cancer. This left me alone for a few weeks, and then Beth Holmes came from Combermere to stay with me for a time. Beth has been assigned here and to Magadan in the past.
During this time, we did not have our weekly poustinia group meeting, but some members wanted to continue to meet, so we had a weekly adoration of the Blessed Sacrament followed by tea and sweets.
Katia came home in the beginning of June, just in time for the consecration of the new Church of the Holy Family in Solnichni, a far off suburb of Krasnoyarsk.
There were three bishops present; our own Bishop Kirill, and two from Poland who had been instrumental in helping to fund the building of the church. Many people from Poland came as well. Others came from surrounding cities and villages.
The bishop in his homily talked about everything that had gone into the building of this structure, and he now called the people to build the parish into a Christian community.
At the end of the liturgy, the vice-governor and the mayor arrived to give their congratulations. The mayor pointed out the need for places of worship in our city, and the governor reiterated the promise that the Organ Concert Hall in the city center will be given back to the Catholic Church. Both received a huge round of applause.
After the liturgy there was food for all, and a folk music concert.
In June, a tragic event occurred in our parish, and many people came to our house to talk, pray with us, and to spend time in our chapel.
There were glad tidings as well: A young couple we know had their first child, a boy, and two other friends got married a few days later.
In Russia, couples usually get married at a legal service done at the wedding department of the government. This is the wedding for them.
Polina and Andrei wanted to stress the religious sacrament of their marriage, and went quietly to obtain their license two days before their Catholic marriage in the newly consecrated Church of the Holy Family.
After the wedding reception, all forty guests piled into a limousine bus and went to the hospital where we all got out to greet the new mother who waved to us through the hospital window.
The evening after the consecration of the church, Beth and I left for a ten-day trip to Magadan, where Madonna House had a house for a time. For Beth, it was a powerful week of happy reunions.
For me, Magadan was, among other things, a personal pilgrimage, for I am descended from Ukrainians who immigrated to Canada before the Russian Revolution.
I met many Russians with Ukrainian backgrounds who were either survivors of the nearby concentration camps or the children or grandchildren of survivors.
Our hostess, Lyuda Yeretik, the woman with whom we stayed, was one of them, and she said to me, "Thank your ancestors for emigrating to Canada." These words were seared into my heart.
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