27 representatives of Roman Catholic parish of St. Joseph (Minsk, BELARUS) have started an indefinite fasting for return of the buildings of the Bernardine monasteries and the church.
The BelaPAN has been informed about that by a member of the religious community Ivona Matsukevich. As said by her, since August 30 people of different ages, trades and education are taking part in the protest aimed at return of the buildings. Among them are 17-year-old students.
“Somebody of them started full fasting and was drinking only water, some are eating only bread with water. And each of the participants of the protest has chosen a certain day of fast. I abstain from food three days a week, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays,” Ivona Matsukevich said. As said by her, it is a sacrifice to God which is to become an addition to prayers for return of the holy shrine to believers, which have been held for three and a half years already, starting from March 19, 2005.
I. Matsukevich has addressed to all people of the good will with a request to support members of the community of St. Joseph, in their intention to return what legally belongs to believers.
As we have informed, in 2007 more than 30,000 signatures were collected in support of the appeal to the head of the state with a request to return the monastery to believers. The actions started when plans of Minsk city executive committee to hand over the sanctuary to investors for reconstruction and turning them into a hotel complex, shops and a recreation centre.
The monastery was confiscated in 1864 by the authorities of the Russian Empire after the national liberation uprising against the Russian tsarist regime headed by Kastus Kalinouski was suppressed. For the next 144 years the state used free of charge the complex built at believers’ money. Now military commandant's office and prosecutor’s office have been removed from the monastery. However the Belarusian State scientific archive of scientific and technical documentation and the Belarusian State Archive of literature and arts.
As the BelaPAN has found out from informed sources in the Belarusian Roman Catholic church, on June 20 at the meeting in Minsk the State Secretary of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Torcisio Bertone with A. Lukahsenka, he didn’t receive a positive answer to the question about return of the buildings of the Bernardine monastery and the church to believers.
As we have informed, Ivona Matsukevich, the head of the parish committee of St. Joseph’s church, was given the National Human Rights Award in 2007 by the organizing committee of the Charter’97. She was awarded in the category “For defense of human rights and Christian values”. Throughout the last 2 years Belarusians have been witnessing a spiritual deed. Every day after the evening service and after the morning service on Sunday, Ivona Matsukevich goes to St. Joseph’s Church. She prays for return of the house of worship to the Catholic Church. Sometimes dozens and hundreds people join her, but more often just a few brothers and sisters. There are days when she comes along, but her prayer service in defense of Christian values and rights of believers haven’t stopped even for a day.