With great joy today I can say that the planned and ‘prayed about’ new mission in Spain is already a reality! The Diocese of Sogorbe-Castellon opened its hospitable doors and the House of the Holy Family of Nazareth was founded in Benicassim. The first community is comprised of S. Katarzyna Nowak (superior), S. Michalina Pawlak, S. Paula Śpiewak and S. Karolina Szpak.
In the cloistered part of the house, there is a small chapel, simple and poor. And yet it was there that on the first evening after the arrival of the Sisters, the Lord Jesus came to live. The parish priest, Father Luis could not imagine that the Sisters would live in a house without their Bridegroom even for one night.
The house was blessed on the Feast of the Archangels. On October 1, after a solemn Mass in the parish, the agreement was signed between the Diocese and the Congregation. We signed the Agreement before the altar, in the presence of parishioners and invited guests. In his homily, Bishop Casimiro Lopez Llorente was moved (… and moved us) as he thanked us for wanting to come here. In an era when one rather constantly hears about the closure of convents, about the withdrawal of congregations, about the lack of vocations, we had the courage to open a new mission in a new country with a language that is new for us. How much the Diocese already feels endowed with our charism! The Bishop continued to say how much the families here need our prayers, our presence, our accompaniment in various ways, our witness of fidelity to our vocation. He understands that our arrival is absolutely a gift of Divine Providence and that it has something to do with Saint Pope John Paul II, the Pope of the Family.
After the Mass, according to Spanish custom, there was a snack for everyone (prepared by the parish) and an opportunity to greet everyone, and to chat.
Since our arrival, so many people have passed through our house. There were those who helped with the refurbishing and cleaning, those who brought fruit, cakes or, trying to be more practical, brought some kind of furniture for the house. On Sunday, young families from the parish came with a whole bunch of children. Most of the children saw Sisters for the first time in their lives. There was no end to the questions and amazement, but after a while, the children happily played hide and seek or tag with the Sisters (the house is surrounded by a garden, which is like paradise for the children!). Even a minimum of Spanish was enough to make our guests happy. They are simply happy that we are there.
The missionary field is huge and there are many possibilities for realizing our charism. Of course, the Sisters will still spend time learning the language (especially Sister Katarzyna and Sister Michalina – the teacher is already there, the lesson plan is being created …). However, immediately, the Sisters were involved in various apostolates in the parish: catechesis, liturgical animation, Caritas, visits to the sick… Some other forms of work with young people and families are appearing in some future plans. The Sisters are observing, questioning, learning, making contacts and participating in the liturgical life of the parish.
There is one more large chapel in our house, which is temporarily closed. Soon, however, there will be perpetual prayer, especially with families and for families. We want our house to be open, and hospitable. In order to draw strength from prayer and community, we undertook in many ways the work of spreading the Kingdom of God’s Love here, where Divine Providence allowed us to come.
In the face of all these challenges, and especially in view of the great hopes placed in us, we feel the trembling of our hearts. We are accompanied by a sense of human frailty. You could ask, what is this for so many, these four Sisters, together for the first time, in a new community, in a new country, far from other Nazareth houses … And yet I have peace in my heart because I have a deep conviction that if we will lay this little bit into the hands of Jesus that will be enough. Just as five loaves were enough to feed the crowds, and there was still some leftover. We are surrounded by sincerity, prayer, and the goodness of the people. We have Jesus! It is in His Name that we go, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to be Mission! Courage! God loves a cheerful giver!
M. Jana Zawieja