Church in Belarus Perseveres
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, now apostolic administrator of Pinsk, Belarus, blesses people during a 2010 Palm Sunday service in Minsk, Belarus. I grew up in the Soviet Union in a time of persecution, said Archbishop Kondrusiewicz, in a homily during a prayer service with students at St. Paul Catholic High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., 13 March. (photo: CNS/Vasily Fedosenko, Reuters)
26 Mar 2012 by Elisabeth Deffner
SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. (CNS) —
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, a native of Belarus,
told a Catholic high school audience how he grew up in
the Soviet Union in a time of persecution and now there
is another type of persecution.
That persecution is secularization, modern
relativism, said the archbishop, who is currently apostolic
administrator of the Diocese of Pinsk, Belarus, in a homily
during a prayer service with students at St. Paul Catholic
High School in Santa Fe Springs.
But if Catholics live lives that are predicated on
Jesus Christ, they can avoid falling prey to these types of
persecution, he told the crowd of 100 that filled the school
library. Our faith must be a light in our daily life.
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz was at the high school
in the Los Angeles Archdiocese March 13.
He came to the United States after being invited to
attend the Western Region Canon Law Society meeting
March 2-7 in Las Vegas.
He also visited different organizations and
individuals in Los Angeles to continue to strengthen
bonds between the Minsk and Los Angeles archdioceses.
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz hopes to send one of his
priests to the International Institute for Theological and
Tribunal Studies in Los Angeles this summer.
It is an altogether different world than the one in
which he grew up.
Born into an ethnic Polish family in a village in
eastern Belarus in 1946, the archbishop grew up in a war-
torn country with a long history of religious persecution:
Clergy were slaughtered, worshippers were forced to
convert, and many churches were destroyed.
As a 16-year-old, the future priest entered the
department of physics and mathematics at a teachers
training college in his homeland, but had to leave after
only a year because of unpleasant voices complaining
about him being a believer.
In 1964 he entered the Leningrad Polytechnical
Institute in Russia, graduating as a mechanical engineer in
1970. Though some people knew he was a practicing
Catholic, in Leningrad — now St. Petersburg — he did not
experience the persecution he suffered while at college in
At that time, it was state policy for postgraduate
students to spend five years working in a location selected
by the government. The future archbishop was sent to
Vilnius, the capital of predominantly Catholic Lithuania
where, for the first time in his life, he grew accustomed to
seeing churches staffed by clergy.
"In Vilnius, there were 10 churches and 15
priests," he recalled. It was incredible.
In Lithuania, there also was a Catholic seminary.
At age 30, he entered it.
In 1989, just a few months before the Berlin Wall
came down, then-Father Kondrusiewicz was ordained a
bishop and appointed the apostolic administrator of
That was a very good time, he said, a time of
big political changes. There were new policies, new
Tags: Eastern Europe Belarus Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz Belarus Catholic Church