Penza, Russia, September 24, 2020
Maria Lvova-Belova, a priest’s wife and mother of 17 children, was among the winners of the Leaders of Russia competition on September 8.
Now Matushka Maria, who has been involved in Church ministries and charity work for 12 years, including with orphans with disabilities, has been honored with an appointment to the Federation Council from the government of the Penza Province, 375 miles southeast of Moscow.
The Federation Council is the upper house of Russian Parliament, consisting of 2 senators from each of Russia’s republics, provinces, and other territorial divisions.
The relevant resolution was signed on September 21 by Penza Governor Ivan Belozertsev, reports the Russian Church’s Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Services.
“It is very important for me that the Governor of the Penza Province has such confidence in me,” commented Matuska Maria. “I will continue to support the interests of the region at the level of the Federation Council, and I am glad that I can develop the social agenda and help our beloved Penza Province.”
“I’m not giving up my social and Church projects. The most important of them, the task of my whole life, is the New Shores project, which I have yet to finish. Of course, for me as a person who is a member of the Church, helping people is a ministry that I will try to continue with dignity and at a new level,” she said.
New Shores is a unique art estate for people with disabilities that was begun in 2018. Currently, 50 people from 11 regions live in the three buildings already built. Altogether, 12 houses for 120 people will be built. The project is intended to become a federal platform for the development of modern inclusive practices and technologies and a center for non-formal education, communication, and an exchange of experience.
Matushka Maria has also launched a program for wheelchair users and a boarding school for young people with severe disabilities.
Matushka Maria and her husband, Fr. Paul Kogelman, have 17 children: 5 blood, 4 adopted, and 8 foster children.