The Holodomor wasn’t just some isolated event in the past. It is still felt today. In 2012 Ukrainians are still dealing with the impact of Stalin’s brutal, deliberate and systematic murder of Ukrainian farm families. This the topic of today’s Mendeleyev Journal:
Near Dnepropetrovsk in Ukraine is a women’s monastery and church that Christian believers have been working to revive. Founded in 1881 the Holy Synod granted that the monastery could be established to meet the medical needs of the community and for sheltering destitute women and children. “In the village of Alexander to establish a reckless female community in the name of Our Lady of the Sign with the name Свято-Знаменский женский монастырь (Holy Znamensky Women’s Monastery) with that number of nurses, which the community will be able to provide at his own expense.”
The monastery was the idea of a wealthy widow, a hereditary noblewoman named Catherine P. Vasilenko who used her inheritance to fund the construction and staffing of the monastery. In 1901 construction began on the monastery in 1903 the monastery was incorporated as women’s convent. In 1904, a nun named Ekaterina Pavlovna the biblical name of Elizabeth and was elevated to the rank of abbess of the convent.
By the early twentieth century, the monastery had 250 nuns, 5 buildings, brick and candle factories to offer employment to destitute women, a windmill, a bakery, and creamery. The monastery operated a shelter for girls from poor families and orphans as well as a school for the children of the area’s poorest farmers. The monastery had a huge garden (if you can call 500 acres just a “garden”) with milling for wheat, fruit tree orchard and flowers. God had in providence blessed the monastery with some of the richest growing soil in southern Ukraine.
Throughout its history Znamensky Convent cared for the needs of the surrounding region. Then came the Soviet revolution and the monastery entered a period of desolation and decline as the Soviets and Stalin began the shame of what is called today the Holodomor Genocide, the brutal murder by systematic and deliberate starvation of Ukrainian families who resisted Stalin’s collectivization of farms. By 1927 the monastery was closed. The Soviets dynamited the town’s Cathedral of the Transfiguration and turned the small monastery church into a gym. The job creating factories were closed and the buildings converted into a larger school.
The tomb of the first abbess was desecrated and her relics were thrown out. However pious villagers moved her remains to another village church where they are stored until now. Locals still honor her sacred memory. By the end of the 90s the monastery was ruins with overgrown bushes, garbage, weeds and old trees littering the property. In 1997 the government returned the property to the church and with the blessing of the Archbishop of Dnipropetrovsk a small group of nuns and villagers began the restoration of the monastery. The work of restoration has been done via donated funds and labour but still much is needed to be done.
The destruction was so great, and the recovery so complicated that the abbess Abbess Barbara has appealed to every Christian person to consider assisting with the project. At present, the monastery in dire need of the following building materials:
1. Roofing materials
2. Metal (valves, channels, angles, tubes, electrodes)
4. Waterproofing materials
5. Foam insulation materials
7. Tile for flooring
9. Plumbing fixtures (sinks, faucets, toilets)
Those wishing to contribute to the revival of the monastery, please refer to the abbess Abbess Barbara on mobile telephone 38 – (097) 215-48-87. Please remember the time differences if you live in the West. There is an 10 hour difference from Los Angeles or 7 hour difference from New York.
If you’d rather contact the Archbishop’s office, it is in Dnipropetrovsk:
Красная площадь 7,
Управление Днепропетровской Епархии Украинской Православной Церкви
The link for Russian readers is http://www.eparhia.dp.ua/news.php?id_news=1977