Hello, we have been responsible for CANA in our country for a year and a half, and we would like to share some news with you. The CANA fraternity in Russia recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. Today CANA Russia brings together 35 couples in Moscow and St. Petersburg, two cities 650 km away. We are divided into 8 small fraternities. Most couples are Orthodox, but a Protestant couple has joined us. Some people are just beginning their journey with the Church.
Wonder and Gratitude
The period of the pandemic fills us with wonder and gratitude to God for the way He opened new doors despite the difficulties. As the isolation began, Piotr BABOURIN, who is participating in the “Youth Mission,” received the words “prayer breakfast” in his heart, and launched online meetings for young people to pray together in the morning. We realized that for CANA couples, such an initiative would provide good support and an important spiritual experience.
So, we organized similar meetings. So far, from Monday to Saturday, those who can and who want to praise God together in the morning gather on Zoom. We also pray in silence with the text of the day, then we briefly share with the brothers and sisters what we receive in prayer, and finally we pray for the needs and requests of each other. This prayer breakfast takes an hour. Several people come once a week, which contributes to our unity (including between the two cities). Hearing the Spirit speak through the brethren is like a miracle and it also helps us to overcome difficulties.
In May 2020, when weekends became impossible, the Lord inspired us and we organized a two-day online weekend. At first, many brothers did not expect anything serious, but they were surprised by the fruits received. For the first time, we were able to bring all the couples together at the same time. We organized small groups, an evening of reconciliation with a prayer for couples in pairs, songs with texts displayed on the split screen, teaching times, testimony, and even an art therapy class for children. Everything has been successful.
Since then, we have been holding online meetings with the leaders of the small fraternities in both cities and additional online weekends for those who cannot come for “live” weekends.
We also have a “CANA Chat” once a week in each city, where we make proposals for a couple time. Then those who want to can connect to the online sharing group and pray together. One Friday, we had an evening of praise, full of joy. At Easter, we gathered for prayer, and then connected live to the Easter liturgy.
Last summer, when some of the pandemic restrictions stopped, together as the CANA national team we made the courageous decision to organize CANA Week as a “live” event. It was not easy, but we did it. With 11 new couples participating, and the arrival of many servants of the Youth Mission and couples of the CANA fraternity who lacked fraternal life, we had an extraordinary week by a beautiful lake in the St. Petersburg region
This year we had two CANA weekends, both in Moscow and in St. Petersburg, on the themes: “Dialogue as a couple” and “Equal and Different”. This last weekend has shown that – men and women – we are so different and sensitive that we can only reconcile in Christ! The weekends in St. Petersburg with 9 couples take place in a very family-like atmosphere. As for the weekends in Moscow, they take place in the “Martha and Mary” format, i.e., alternating the time in session and the time taking care of the children, etc., so that all couples can both follow the program and experience to be in service. Thank you to the CANA International team for the documents and support we have received.
CANA Welcome News
This year we organized the CANA Welcome program through online meetings, which allowed participants from different cities and even other countries (such as Lithuania) to join us again. At the beginning of the program in October, we decided to meet more often. We meet every two weeks, keeping the usual structure: a brief prayer, a short teaching, a time together, a sharing group. A novelty this year: at the beginning of each meeting, we present ourselves on the basis of questions we ask. It’s interesting to note the participants’ responses on the virtual board. For example, the number of years of marriage, the number of children, what we expect from this program, our favourite places (on the map), etc. This gives liveliness and the atmosphere is very quickly fraternal.
In St. Petersburg, the CANA Welcome program takes place in an Orthodox parish. Maxim and Anna ERSHOV are in charge. The meetings are held in person once a month.
We did for the first time the “Choose your priorities as a couple” weekend: in February in Moscow and in March in St. Petersburg. It was a good opportunity to get to know the couples and have a good fraternal time.
To know more
This year in the Orthodox Church in Russia, Easter is celebrated on Sunday, May 2nd with 3 Easter liturgies: at midnight, at 7 a.m. and at 10 a.m. Currently, the churches are open to all. People who are old or sick can follow the liturgy online.
- Youth Mission of the Chemin Neuf Community (in French, English subtitles)