On October 14-15, 2023, the Mission of the Good Samaritan under the patronage of Saint Uršulia Lieduchoŭskaja organized a pilgrimage “The Way of the Uršulian Sisters”, which was dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the activities of the Uršulian Sisters in Belarusian lands. The journey took place along the route: Minsk–Motal–Moladava–Ivanava–Pinsk–Haradišča–Lahišyn–Minsk.
Shortly before the pilgrimage, the Mission staff organized a scientific expedition, during which the place where the Catholic chapel was built in Motal in 1939 was identified. The pilgrims visited this place in the very center of the town. The Motal Museum of Folk Art welcomed travelers hospitably. Everyone was impressed by the wonderful exposition and traditional songs performed by the Motal residents for the visitors. In the town, they also inspected the Church of the Transfiguration of the 19th century.
Not far from Motal there is the village of Moladava, which is strongly connected with the activities of the Uršulian Sisters. “The Skirmunts, the owners of the beautiful Moladava estate, generously donated this property to our Congregation, while they were still alive, entrusting us with arable land and meadows for charitable purposes,” wrote the abbess Uršulia Lieduchoŭskaja. The Ursulian sisters created several kindergartens in Moladava, engaged in catechizing among local residents, and also cared for the sick. From the possessions of the Skirmunts, only the funeral chapel was preserved – a magnificent architectural monument of the beginning of the 20th century. Pilgrims also visited the local cemetery, where only a few half-destroyed burials of the Skirmunts survived. All believers were interested in the unique, but now decayed, Moladava Ascension Church of the 18th century. Unfortunately, its state of preservation is a cause for concern. A new temple was recently built. The bell of 1583 was moved to a new place – one of the oldest in Belarus.
Then there was a move to the town of Ivanava (formerly Janau Paliesski). 90 years ago, these 20 kilometers were a difficult test for the Uršulians. It was necessary to travel in the most different weather conditions, to overcome this route on horseback and on foot. Uršulia Ledóchowska said the following about the appearance of the mission in Janau in 1938: “There is already a firstborn in Moladava, this institution in Janau Palieski, the place of martyrdom of St. Andrej Babolia”. Travelers visited the local Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. There was a warm meeting with the pastor of the parish, Fr. Pavel Kruchek. The church houses a cross created by the famous artist Napaleon Orda. Travelers liked the Park of Miniatures of Lost Sights, which presents models of architectural monuments of the Ivanava District. Here you can also see a model of the family residence of the Skirmunts in the village of Moladava.
One of the central places of the trip was Pinsk – the “capital of Paliesse”. Holy Mass was held in the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. An interesting historical excursion about the shrine was made by the pastor of the parish, Fr. Pavel Vrubiel. Pilgrims prayed in the crypt in the basement of the Pinsk Cathedral, where Cardinal Kazimir Sviontek is buried. During the visit to Pinsk, they heard more than once about the importance of the figure of Cardinal Kazimir Sviontek and the example of his selfless life as a believer and priest devoted to serving Christ and the Church. The priest Zygmunt Lazinski, who is buried in the crypt of the Pinsk Cathedral, was also mentioned more than once. A tour of the Higher Theological Seminary named after St. Thomas Aquinas and its wonderful museum was conducted by Fr. Česlau Ladyka. During a walk around the city, they visited the Butrimovich Palace – an architectural monument of the 18th century. Most likely, it was there that on August 29, 1938, Holy Mass was held in the chapel of the bishop’s palace, after which Ursula Ledóchowska and Bishop Kazimir Bukrab went to visit the Uršulian sisters in the village of Vostrau.
From Pinsk, the pilgrims went to the village of Haradišča, where in the 1930s. the Ursuline nuns were also active. First of all, the pilgrims managed to visit the local museum, which was created by the diligent efforts of local resident Natalia Kachniuk. Many rarities are stored in it. The hostess also showed the church shrines, which were preserved by local residents after the destruction of the town church during the Second World War. In Haradišča, the same activities were carried out by the Uršulin nuns as in other missions. The sisters carried out parish work, visited the sick, took care of a group of village housewives, a youth society. The pilgrims inspected the old monastery building, where in the 1930s. the rectory softened and the Ursuline nuns lived. The participants of the pilgrimage went down the preserved stairs towards the Haradišča lake.
One of the final points of the program was a visit to the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Lahishyn. There is a miraculous icon of the Mother of God of Lahishyn – the Queen of Palesse. Lahishyn is the place of service of priest Jahn Zeya, whom Ursula Ledóchowska characterized as “very good and holy”, “ideal” and even “God’s madman”. Fr. Andrei Šut, who recently started his ministry in Lahishyn., told about the church and the parish.
Pilgrims returned to Minsk with prayer and gratitude to God for their journey. Pilgrimage is our sacrificed time and a small step in spiritual life. Pilgrimage is a lot of conversations and meetings with other people’s hearts. During two days we learned and prayed a lot. The heart is filled with gratitude to the Lord for the gifts and favors that He gave during the journey. Thanks to him for the people he placed nearby, consecrated persons for spiritual conversations and pieces of advice. Thanks to the priests, through whose service there was a daily Eucharist and the possibility of confession. With gratitude to everyone who had us as pilgrims, took care and prayed for us.