Dean Of Belarusian Parish In Vilnius Hopes To Have Full Church Of Believers In A Year


Since 13 March the Holy Masses in the Catholic Church of St. Bartholomew are served only in Belarusian. Such a decision had been taken by the Archbishop of Vilnius  Gintaras Grušas.

The sanctuary had been handed to the Belarusian diaspora in 1997 but only today the religious life here acquired Belarusian sound. The last time the Mass here was served in Belarusian was 1945. “I hadn’t being coming here for a long time because everything was mixed here”, – tells Miraslava Rusak, who started coming here onky with the coming of a Belarusian-speaking priest, to the reporter of Radyjo Svaboda.

Today 30 people attend the Sunday Mass in this church. The dean of the church is f. Ariusz Malysko OFM Cap – a Pole who had gotten  full command of the Belarusian language after 10 years he served in Belarus. “I am nit a Belarusian, but I like the Belarusian language”, – says f. Ariusz who had grown up in Northern Poland in multicultural surroundings and who learned Ukrainian and sang in a Ukrainian ensemble in his childhood.

Father Ariusz Malysko served Lublin, studied in Rome, served in Sluck district in Belarus, later in Maladziečna wher he was building a church and then in Minsk.

In 2015 Archbishop Gintaras Grušas addressed rchbishp Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz on behalf of Belarusians of Vilnius. Today the Order of Capuchin, to which f. Ariusz belongs, is and official guardian of the Vilnius parish.

An agreement with the Capuchins for a spiritual guidance had been made for one year for now.

Father Malysko supposes that in a year he will gather a full church of the faithful: “Catholics from Maladziečna and Minsk support us. 30 people came for the first Sunday Mass. Another two dozens came to the evening one. hey say more people came for Polish services”.

“There is no sustainable Belarusian tradition here, – Valiancin Sciech says, a Catholic and the chairman of Belarusian club “Siabryna”. – At home they will speak Belarusian but in church they expect to hear Polish”.

“It is very important to have a cultural center in this church, where people would be able not only to pray but to stage cultural events, – he adds. – It is extremely difficult to us to save the church for a Belarusian parish”.

Father Ariusz relies on the students of European Humanitarian Institute, some of whom attend the church. The priest plans to have meeting with the students of the university soon.

“To build a Christian community of Belarusians will be probably difficult, – says the priest. – That is why we are going to open a Belarusian Youtube channel. Thus we will attract people”.

Today 42.5 thiusands of Belarusians live in Lithuania.