Ksenia Smirnova From Russia

About Ksenia Smirnova From Russia

LCI 2011-2012 | University Lecturer

Growing up in the remote Kuril Islands, just off the coast of Japan, Ksenia Smirnova had no contact with the Catholic Church. There were no Catholic parishes on her island nor were there any practicing Catholics. But there were books.

“My mom didn’t have us baptized as children because she wanted us to pick our own religion when we were grown,” explains Ksenia. “So she always had books around the house about the different religions, and she would talk to us about them.”

For almost as long as she can remember, despite all the options with which she was presented, there was only one Church that interested Ksenia: the Catholic Church. She was drawn to it for reasons she says she still can’t explain. She just believed Catholicism to be true and knew she wanted to become Catholic.

For years, Ksenia didn’t believe that could be possible. After all, there were no Catholic churches anywhere near her. Eventually, however, she went to university in a larger city in Russia’s mainland. There, she began attending a Catholic parish and preparing for Baptism. She also took on a part-time job running the Russian Facebook page for World Youth Day. It was while doing that work that she stumbled across LCI.

“I knew I wanted to seriously study the Faith, but in Russia there is no place to do that and the schools I looked at in other countries were too expensive,” says Ksenia. “So when I learned about LCI, I wrote right away. And soon, I was there.”

During the year she spent at LCI, Ksenia was baptized and received into the Catholic Church. Her classroom studies helped her perfect her English and grow in knowledge of the Faith, while her life among the Franciscan University students helped her understand what a lived faith looks like.

She recalls, “In Russia, people don’t talk about God. But at Gaming, I was surrounded by people who had God at the center of their life. It was beautiful. It changed my life. It changed me. I can’t imagine who I would be without LCI.”

After completing LCI, Ksenia went on to earn a master’s degree in theology from the International Theological Institute. Now she is in Bangkok, Thailand, teaching ethics at Assumption University of Thailand, a Catholic University administered by the Brothers of St. Gabriel.

Looking back at her year in Gaming, she says: “LCI not only gave me friends for life, but most importantly a solid Catholic foundation. There is nothing that makes me more proud than to say, “I am Catholic!”