In memoriam:

Helena Maria Novozamsky-Hustoles

03 June 1937 (Prague) – 27 July 2019 Roozendaal

A very nice funeral service in the Protestant Church in Doorwerth. As Helena was a soprano in the Arnheim Slavic Choir and in the Nijmegen Byzantine Choir, members of both choirs sang nine songs during the service. After the service we brought Helena to her grave, in a pouring rain.


Nijmegen Byzantine Choir, conducted by Svetlana van Wielink.

Celebrant: Father Ivan Moiseitsiik (Иван Моисеитийк)

Ivan Moiseitsiik is married and a priest for the Belarusian Greek Catholics

Anyone who believes that married Catholic priests is something for the future is mistaken. Ivan Moiseitsiik is married to Alina, father of four and formally belongs to the clergy of the diocese of Antwerp, although he serves as a priest in the small Belarusian Greek-Catholic community in Belgium. Moiseitsiik was born in 1972 in western Belarus (Belarus), a country east of Poland and then part of the Soviet Union. So he grew up in the tight, atheistic Soviet traditions. The Greek Catholic Church – ‘Catholics of Greek law’, is said in Poland – had been excluded from the law by the Czars and the Soviets, but in the fall of communism they rose from its ashes. Ivan Moiseitsiik: “With the disappearance of communism in 1989, openness, independence and freedom grew in my country. I was happy about that, but then came the economic crisis and poverty. I never thought we would end up in a dictatorship again, but that is exactly what happened. ”

Moiseitsiik studied with the Capuchins, married, and was ordained a priest in the Greek Catholic Church. The canonical law of the Eastern Churches allows that, in that order. He had to deal with odd jobs and jobs, to the toil of construction. In 2003, he established a Greek Catholic community based in the Holy-Heart Church in Antwerp. A fairly large diaspora of emigrants from Belarus lived in Western Europe after 1945,” continues Moiseitsiik, “but none of them were left when I arrived in Belgium. We gathered newcomers from the Soviet Union who were often not brought up religiously. For Westerners, our history is hard to understand. Say that we are Orthodox who came to the Catholic Church long ago, in the sixteenth century, while preserving our traditions and liturgy. The Belarusian Greek Catholics do not have a bishop or seminary, but are directly supervised by Rome. We are not numerous, we are like a bird in God’s hands.”

The Byzantine liturgy dedicated by Ivan Moiseitsiik takes a long time, is particularly sacred and takes place in front of and behind an impressive icon wall. “I create the Byzantine liturgy not only in Antwerp, but also in Drongen and in Zelzate, or everywhere else in Belgium or the Netherlands where I am asked. Belgians are also fascinated by our liturgy. I celebrate in Belarusian, Slavic or Dutch. I always pray the litany in several languages. Westerners do not understand much of our tradition, even though it is essentially Catholic. Many also do not understand that a priest can be married. Sometimes I keep silent so as not to confuse people.” The majority of the twenty Greek Catholic priests in Belarus must work as a laborer or servant for his livelihood. Their believers are usually poor. To assist them, Moiseitsiik founded the non-profit organization Martyria, also because in Western Europe hardly any attention is paid to that population group in Belarus. In the meantime, Ivan Moiseitsiik and his family have been living in rural Wachtebeke for several years and are registered as a parish officer, although the modest wage is tight for a family with four growing and studying children. “Sometimes something needs to be added,” he says.


In my new position as treasurer of the Nimwegen Byzantine Choir I surprised my fellow boardmembers last Tuesday with an order of 100 stamps with the logo of the choir. And they arrived today. Half goes to the lady who takes care of sending cards to all members on their birthday, but also sick people get her attention. The remaining 50 are divided over the 5 boardmembers. It is the strict intention, that all outbound mail of the choir carries the Byzantine stamp.


mandylion 16 augustus.jpg

Saturday 09 March 2019 at the Titus Brandsma Memorial Church 07:00pm: Ordination of Icons & Byzantine Orthodox Mass. Celebrant: Ton Sip. Nijmegen Byzantine Choir, conductor Svetlana van Wielink.


The essence of the icon is most evident to us at the liturgy of the signaling of the icons, that is, the sacred act performed by the priest, making a painted icon suitable for ecclesiastical use. This ordination is absolutely necessary, for it is the ecclesiastical confirmation of the identity between the painted image and the heavenly primal picture. The current liturgy of the icons of ordination clearly shows traces of the conflicts that have raged in the Church in the time of the Iconoclasm. Also in the 7th and 8th century, the opponents of the sacred images mainly appealed to the second of the Ten Commandments (Ex.20,4): “Thou shalt not make unto thee images of God, nor any image of that which is in heaven above on the earth below, or in the water under the earth! “and they had seen in the veneration of images in the Orthodox Church a crime against the express prohibition of God. According to their conception, the worship of the images implied that God would fall short in the honor that belongs to him alone. On both arguments now the prayers and hymns of the icons of ordination take effect. In the opening prayer one addresses God and then clearly shows that with his prohibition he meant only the production of idols. “You have forbidden by a commandment, images and parables displease You, the true God, to make to worship and serve as the Lord “. After this has been established, however, it is pointed out with all the more emphasis that God himself has commanded “to erect images, by which not the name of strange, false and non-existent gods, but Your most holy and exalted name, that of the any true God is glorified “. As such are mentioned the Ark of the Covenant with the two golden Cherubs, as well as the Cherubs of gilded cypress wood, which had to be applied to the temple of Solomon by God’s command. Thus, after the abolition of false image and idol worship, God himself started to portray the mysteries of his realm. The most lofty image of itself – so the ordination prayer continues – God has accomplished in his incarnation, through the incarnation of his Son, who is the “Image of the invisible God” Koll.1,15) and the “irradiation of his Glory “(Heb.1,3). God himself “the sculptor of the whole visible and invisible creation” has portrayed himself in Jesus Christ, his perfect icon. The incarnation of the Son is the image that God has made of himself. Thus God himself is the creator of the first icon, who manifested himself to us in the form of Christ.

Now follows the most striking and for us West-Europeans most unexpected phrase: from Christ himself, the image of the Father, we have, it is said, a detailed, “not man-made” image, on which the facial features of the God-man have been preserved. Here the liturgy alludes to the already mentioned miraculous image, which Christ sent to King Abgar of Edessa, as well as to the tradition of the sweat, with which Christ on his way to Calvary wiped his face and on which the image of his countenance was miraculously left behind. Christ himself has thus made the first Christ icon and thereby legitimized both the painting of icons and the icon worship – this argument is therefore used against the first objection of the opponents of icons.

The second objection of the opponents, that God is shortened by the worship of the sacred image in the honor that belongs to him alone, is refuted by another viewpoint, which is entirely developed from the neo-Platonic reflection on the images: “We idolize the icons do not, but know that the honor, which is proved to the image, rises to the depicted being “. Not the image as such is the object and receiver of worship, but the depicted being that appears in it. In the prayers for intercession, for example, one finds the explicit request that the images should not tempt anyone, to only accept the worship that comes to God as the origin of all holiness.


As every year, there was a Russian Orthodox Easter service, with the Nimwegen Byzantine Choir conducted by Svetlana van Wielink. The Priest came all from Antwerp. He had in his readings a nice mix of Russian and Flemish accent. grNormally we have the services at the Titus Brandsma Memorial Church. This year we had the service in the Groenestraat Church (pic. left). A regular Byzantine service lasts about 1 hour 30 minutes. The Easter service -as in the version of the Nimwegen Byzantine Choir- lasts 3 hours. A real complete Russian Orthodox Easter service lasts over 4 hours…


This afternoon the first rehearsal for the Byzantine Liturgy on December 10th. I shall be present on the rehearsals of November 14, 21 and 28. As I leave for Somerset on December 1, I have to skip the rehearsal of December 5 and the Holy Liturgy on December 10, as the pane from Exeter arrives too late to attend the Liturgy.

This is one of Kedrov’s “Our Father in heaven”. (Оче наш).