“I was born in Moscow, to a Russian Orthodox family. When I was three years old, in 1989, my family came to know the focolarini who had just arrived in Moscow. My mother and grandmother were very impressed by these men who seemed so authentic and filled with the freshness of the Gospel. My mother checked with the parish priest because she wanted to continue the friendship with the focolarini. After looking into this non-Orthodox community, the priest gave his blessing. Today the Focolare community in Moscow is much larger and the majority of its members are Orthodox.
My family has had a beautiful relationship with the Focolare community for the past twenty-five years, sharing its spirit of deep unity, freedom and mutual respect.
The turning point in my life came in 2000 when I was 13 years old. There was a meeting with Chiara Lubich in Poland which I attended with a group from Russia. During those days together I felt a particular union with God, and that my faith had greatly grown. I became strongly aware of God’s real and constant presence in my life. A few months later I travelled to Japan with a small group of teenagers from Russia, to attend an international conference between youths from the Focolare and Japanese Buddhist teenagers. It was the first time I ever met such young teenagers who were seriously living the Gospel in a spirit of unity and sharing. I felt a strong desire to continue living in this way with my friends back in Moscow.
Following the events in Poland and Japan I began to feel a deep desire to grow in my personal relationship with God. I had a thirst for God. I began attending Church even alone without my parents. The parish priest also saw a change in me and invited me to be an altar server. So for eight years I had the beautiful experience of being near the altar.
The fruit of this way of living – as a member of the Orthodox Church and as a member of the Focolare community – was the realization that God was inviting me to leave everything and give myself to him completely.
After leaving Russia in 2010 I entered the focolare community, and found myself participating in the liturgy in a new way: I began singing in the choir. It was one of those forgotten desire from my childhood, which I now live as a gift from God.
As in all focolares, we strive to live in reciprocal love which often makes us experience the spiritual presence of Jesus among us.