The Romanian Orthodox Church has just opened a monastery in Namur. More exactly, they have resuscitated a Greek Catholic monastery which closed a year ago when the last sister but one died.
Where, I am asking myself, does this put the little church of St Seraphim of Sarov that we in the Russian Orthodox Church tried to open in Namur four years ago, and which is treading water, with no more than one service every two months? 80% of me – the manager, MBA side of me –, says we should cut our losses and close it, and send our people to the Romanians. The ROC Namur parish was never properly costed in terms of priest force (the ROC simply does not have enough priests in Belgium, especially bilingual French-Russian ones, to serve it regularly), or in terms of Russian presence (Namur is probably the major city town with the lowest Russian-speaking density per 1000 inhabitants in Belgium) or in terms of local lay people ready to provide the necessary support. Nor does the building have running water, heating or sanitation, or a bus connection on Sunday (2 km up a steep hill from the nearest bus stop).
And yet, somehow – the other 20% of me says – there was a promise of something good at that little church.If nothing else, it provided a breath of fresh - if cold in winter - air from the rather close atmosphere of the cathedral in Brussels.
St Seraphim, give us wisdom.