The General Superior of Dehonians – Fr. Heiner Wilmer, SCJ – with General Councilor Fr. Artur Sanecki, SCJ, visited the Belarus District September 3-7. It was the first time Fr. Heiner had visited Belarus.
The beginnings of Belarus District date back to the early 1990s of the last century when the Soviet Union had fallen. Christianity was completely destroyed in Belarus, a former Soviet republic. Communism and an unfriendly ideology regarding Christianity removed it from people’s hearts and minds. The first Dehonian who came to Belarus in the 1990s had to completely raise from the ashes all religious structures including churches, parishes and pastoral works. The situation has changed totally during the last few decades. New parishes, newly built churches, social projects and a vivid pastoral life are the fruits of the hard labour of the many SCJs in Belarus. There are 11 Dehonians working in Belarus currently, both Poles and Belarussians.
Fr. Heiner and Fr. Artur saw most of our Dehonian communities and parishes during these days. Fr. Czesław Kucmierz accompanied them on all their visits; he has been the superior of the Belarus District for the last two years.
The visitation began in Postavy, where the parish is ministered by SCJs. Besides the parish, Fr. Heiner saw structures for summer camps for children that are supported by SCJs and social work projects. Close to our Dehonian house in Postavy, there are two other parishes where two Dehonians are present.
Fr. Heiner then moved to Grodno, a city of 400,000 people, where there is the biggest parish among all those operated by the SCJs. He was surprised when he heard that 30,000 Catholics belong to our parish and more than 1,000 children are in catechetics. Fr. General and Fr. Artur had a chance to meet Rev. Joseph Stanevsky, auxiliary bishop of the Grodno diocese. They also visited another of our parishes in Ostrino, close to the city of Grodno.
Fr. General spent his last two days in Lachovichy, where all the Dehonians gathered. It was a unique opportunity to see each other. Fr General noticed the visible cooperation between Polish and Belarussian Dehonians who work together for one common goal.