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DIOCESE OF BERLIN AND GERMANY: July 26, 2006
"Open House" at St Elizabeth Convent

On July 13, the Convent of St Elizabeth the New Martyr in Buchendorf held an "open house." In addition to their bishops, His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany and His Grace Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart, the Convent had the honor of receiving representative clergymen from the Serbian and Romanian Orthodox Churches, His Grace Bishop Konstantin and His Grace Bishop Sofian, and Protopriest Slobodan.

The doors of the Convent were opened for all comers from Buchendorf and nearby towns. Among the honored guests were the regional Deputy Burgomeister, Mr Gross; nuns from the Maria Ward Institute, who own the convent premises; and the Catholic nuns who donated all the Convent's furniture. After a tour of the Convent property, Nun Martha read a greeting to the guests and their benefactors. His Eminence Archbishop Mark told the guests about Russian monasticism and the possible significance of women's monasticism for the future of the Diocese of Berlin and Germany of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Elder Nun of the Maria Ward Institute told of the life and work of their order. The second part of the event included a concert in which the Convent nuns and the Maria Ward nuns sang, as did parish children; opera singer Tatiana Lenhardt offered the Bavarian guests Russian classical works. Sculptures of the Mother of God (by Vitaly Safronov) also imparted the event with a spiritual tone. The guest's interest was drawn to the Convent kiosk, which offered monastic handiwork, Russian souvenirs and handiwork made by girls from the local Russian parish who wished to participate, in a way, in the life of the Convent. Russian pirozhki and other baked goods prepared by the nuns also gladdened the German guests.

The event concluded with the vespers service, led by Vladyka Agapit. For the sake of the guests, the service was performed in two languages: Church Slavonic and German. Knowing how long Orthodox services are, the guests were surprised at the short duration of the vespers service and were happy to accept the invitation to attend services on the Convent's feast day.