Nizhniye Vyazovye, Tatarstan, Russia, February 9, 2018
The Sacrament of holy Baptism was celebrated recently in the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, located on the territory of the Federal State Institution Penal Colony #5 of the Federal Penitential Service of the Republic of Tatarstan in the village of Nizhniye Vyazovye. Following another catechetical discussion, five new prisoners expressed their desire to accept holy Baptism into the Orthodox Church, reports “Orthodoxy in Tatarstan,” the information-education site of the Tatarstan Diocese.
The Baptisms were celebrated by full immersion in a font built by the hands of prisoners several years ago.
“With the appearance of the church, the spiritual life of the colony began new growth. The participation of inmates in worship services, the reading of spiritual literature, talks, and charitable activities help many of them return to normal life and reconsider their priorities in life,” notes Fr Kirill Nazarov, who is responsible for the pastoral care of inmates in the Zelenodolsk Deanery.
The church was consecrated by Metropolitan Anastasy of Kazan and Tatarstan in October, 2014. Much of the work on the church was done by prisoners themselves.
Faithful prisoners have repeatedly donated icons and pieces of Church decoration made by their own hands to children’s, medical, and spiritual institutions. Several carved icons were gifted to the Children’s Regional Clinical Hospital and the Kazan Children’s Hospice last year.
Some of the parishioners of the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos help in the services and sing the Divine Liturgy. The creation of a Church choir was an important event in the life of the prison church. Its members rehearse daily, and they plan to become full participants in the Divine services in the near future.
9 prisoners had previously been baptized by Fr. Kirill in the same church on September 8.
“It is gratifying that the guys are correcting their lives and harkening to the voice of the Church,” Fr. Kirill said at the time, adding, “Thanks to the administration … believers can live an active Church life. The parishioners go to church often, reading the morning and evening prayer rule in the church. They are trying to begin life with a clean slate.”