They pray every day for unborn children. At the beginning, Father Piotr Bielewicz was on his own. Like the holy Curé of Ars, on arriving in his new diocese of Pinsk in Belarus he knelt down in front of the Holy Sacrament in an empty church and began to pray.

round 13 years ago, after spending eight years in Ukraine, this missionary was sent by his Congregation, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, first to Minsk and then into the provinces to Pinsk. Here he has gathered around him others who now pray with him; he has healed spiritual wounds, saved the lives of children. Today there are often several dozen of them, praying in the cathedral in Pinsk.

One of the children saved in this way is called Piotr-Rafael, a name that speaks volumes about the gratitude of his mother. Another little one, with large eyes, is called Vladimir; another, a radiantly beautiful little girl, Svetlana, and so forth. But there were other children they could not save. People in Belarus are afraid of having children, they have such little hope in the future. Most women would prefer to give birth to the child they bear within them, but ‘killing has become so commonplace, so much a matter of course’, says Father Piotr.

People ‘no longer see that it is also killing souls. And so we must pray. God saves.’ Father Piotr feels the dead weight of the country’s godless past. In the diocese he is responsible for the families – and his work is rooted in prayer.

Today, when he speaks with a mother-to-be, he knows that he is no longer alone. One person speaks, another prays – this is their motto. He has won over many grandmothers as his allies. He organises pilgrimages with thousands of participants, and in the countless conversations in the counselling tent, tears often flow.

Acknowledging the truth is painful, but grace heals. Father Piotr also goes into the schools and talks to the young people about love, about chastity and abstinence, about marriage and family. Most of them are hearing it for the first time; many of the teachers deride him, but the schoolgirls are fascinated.

Father Piotr lays bare the buried longing for true love. At the university he likewise teaches what the Church says, starting with the encyclical Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI, through to the preaching of Pope Francis. By now a group of a good 20 young people is helping him to organise the many prayer meetings, pilgrimages and catechetical sessions.

Father Piotr carries conviction when he speaks. ‘We have declared war on the culture of death’, he says. He himself is from a family of seven children, and he was the sixth. ‘It is the logic of the devil to kill’, he says. In communist Eastern Europe it was a matter of course, after two children, to insert an IUD in order to prevent the fertilised egg from implanting and so abort the third child.

Over 90% of women have aborted at least one child in their lives’. Abortions are free in Belarus and there are no controls, so everything happens automatically, so to speak. ‘It takes courage to say “no” to the doctor and “yes” to life’, he adds. Father Piotr inspires this courage. ‘I go to them and share their feelings. For they want life.
I tell them: Have no fear, God is there.’

Father Piotr is an apostle of life and of the civilisation of love. He needs a car for his mission, plus pamphlets, books, catechetical materials. Much of it he makes himself, such as a little newspaper for children. But even this costs money, money he does not have.

So he prays, knowing that ‘God will not desert me’.

This article can be found in Mirror 0615.