On August 7, 2017 at 2:45am in Moscow’s Orthodox St. Alexei Hospital, 68-year-old Galina Maslennikova passed into eternal life. For more than 20 years Galina represented Human Life International (HLI) in Russia. A woman of deep faith and a great defender of life, she saved thousands from the violence of abortion. She started when abortion in Russia was the most popular method of family planning, and the average woman had 7 abortions. Today many in Russia understand abortion is a great evil that not only affects women but all of society.
Galina, who once knew nothing of God, was a convert to Catholicism, not an easy decision in Orthodox Russia. As a Russian and Catholic, a reality very difficult for most Russians to accept, Galina successfully utilized her personal experiences to build bridges within the pro-life community and became an expert liaison between Catholics and Orthodox seeking to build a Culture of Life.
Her father died when she was just 14 and her mother soon after. She was very studious and talented, so she was sent to university to study cybernetics in Novosibirsk. Many of her superiors expected she would pursue a doctorate. At that time, in order to begin a doctoral dissertation, one had to pass an examination in scientific atheism by reading three volumes of atheistic doctrine.
However, the Lord God was already at work in Galina’s life, even though she was not completely aware of Him. In her pursuit of knowledge and understanding, Galina posed a question to the God she did not know and found an answer that would radically change the direction of her life: Lord God, if you exist, let me know what You are all about. A week later, she was given a smuggled copy of the New Testament from Australia. The paper was so thin and the book was so small that she had to put a white paper underneath and use a magnifying glass to read it. Her discovery fundamentally changed her life. “This is pure Love”, she said. To this Great Love Galina devoted the rest of her life, which was reflected in her deep devotion to the Mass, to the Rosary and our Blessed Virgin Mother, especially under her title of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
Galina graduated university with a degree in psychotherapy. HLI co-funded her postgraduate degree in Family Studies at the Catholic University of Lublin. As a family psychotherapist, she counseled those suffering from post-abortion syndrome and saved many marriages from divorce. She also taught natural fertility methods, becoming the first natural family planning instructor in Russia. As a dedicated pro-life missionary, Galina was constantly on the road, not only in Russia but also all over the world. Galina was tireless in her proclamation of the Gospel of Life. Her first devotion was to her fellow Russians, but she also visited Poland and taught in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Latvia, Ukraine, and even in Germany. She trained tens of thousands of pro-life leaders, seeking through them to cast a wider net of influence transforming hearts and minds.
For years she directed the Pastoral Ministry of Families of the Catholic Church in Moscow. She organized conferences, symposia and various workshops for families. She was an excellent lecturer and indispensable expert in her professional field and in bioethics. Through Galina’s assistance, many couples, considered infertile, were blessed with children. She also founded the Independent Institute of Family and Demography, of which she was the director. She worked long hours for God, life and family, often with little-to-no pay and lived simply.
In June Galina completed her last mission, training Latvian pro-life leaders. She died of cancer and was laid to rest at Perepierzinsky Cemetery near Moscow on August 10th. She is the mother of two daughters, Oksana and Aleksandra.
We are grateful to God for the witness of this heroic and courageous woman who sacrificed much for the defense of life and family. She inspired many to see the inherent dignity of life and to defend life from conception to its natural end. Many pro-life leaders in Eastern Europe began under Galina’s tutelage. We are saddened by her death but so grateful to the Almighty Father for the gift of her life and legacy she leaves behind.
Please join HLI in praying for the repose of the soul of Galina, for her two daughters and family and the global family of HLI who mourns the death of a friend and fellow pro-life missionary.
Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her!