Richer with the first experiences of the past year, we take up our new tasks with faith and joy. There are four of us now: Sr. Katarzyna Nowak, Sr. Michalina Pawlak, Sr. Karolina Szpak and since October also Sr. Jana Zawieja. We continue to learn Spanish and make new commitments wherever possible. It is the wish of the Bishop that we may be more and more present in the diocese, not only in the parish in Benicasim.
During the summer, we began to have daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in our public chapel. Many people came, including tourists. In the summer months, we were involved in various initiatives of the parish and the diocese: helping at the summer school in Mater Dei, retreats for young single mothers led by the Community of the Beatitudes, family retreats (charismatic communities), pilgrimage of neocatechumenal communities and finally the international meeting of scouts in Rome.
After the summer holidays, we decided to continue the practice of daily adoration in our chapel. Our plan includes daily two-hour exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the evening. We end our adoration with common vespers, which our Spanish friends are more and more willing to join. They also eagerly come to pray in silence – not only parishioners, sometimes people from neighboring cities come. There are days when there are more of us, sometimes less – but we meet every day in prayer for families and with families. Our home has come alive even more. From the beginning of our stay in Spain, there has been a desire to pray together and to discern God’s will for each of us and this new mission. Prayer determines the rhythm of our days. Every Wednesday we have a Eucharistic liturgy for families in our chapel. Sometimes different groups have their days of reflection: scouts, Caritas volunteers, catechists. Every two months, together with the Community of Beatitudes, we lead adoration in our chapel in the intention of families and life. This year, most likely, couples preparing for marriage will have their retreat. In individual meetings, we also accompany those who ask for spiritual direction.
Thursday evenings are the time of our own formation and community meetings of a slightly different character. We have faith-sharing, revision of life, and formation meetings for which we invite different people. We want to reflect on the Church’s documents on religious life together, and deepen our understanding through dialogue with the invited guests; we want to learn about the history of the local Church – her joy and concerns, new communities and the reasons for the passing of old ones. We also want to prepare a cycle of monthly catecheses on religious life. We see that this is an interesting topic. This month we also opened our Spanish Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/hermanasdelasagradafamiliadenazaretspain/
Beginning with this pastoral year, Sr. Michalina and Sr. Karolina are much involved in the Oratory at the Mater Dei Catholic School. It is a school with over 500 students – from preschool through high school. The oratory is a very interesting formation program for children and the youth. It is time of prayer with children and young people. The Sisters assist in these meetings which are included in the lesson plan. The classes are divided into smaller groups and each group meets once a week in the chapel for prayer led according to the program prepared by Father Gonzalo M. Carbo Bolt and his brothers from the congregation which he founded: Cooperatores Veritatis (www.cooperatoresveritatis.org). They also help in monthly gatherings for girls, co-led with parents and Pastors in Mater Dei.
Sr. Katarzyna has been helping this year in the Catholic Family Support Center in Castellon. About 30 volunteers are involved in this center: priests, family counselors, doctors, psychologists, social workers, lawyers and others. Sister serves as a family counselor. Each person who comes to the center receives his / her family counselor who he / she meets and who recognizes the need for more specialist help. Volunteers have regular, practical training and receive ongoing support.
In addition, we help with catechesis in the parish, which is carried out in the afternoon from Monday to Thursday. It allows us to get to know more the children from our parish and their families. Sr. Karolina is still involved in Caritas. Sr. Jana intensively learns the language and helps with all the works of the community. Soon she will begin her visits to the sick at homes and in the hospital. Sister is a great help in our daily life and a witness of simplicity and humility in her returning to simple works after so many years of service in the general administration.
Additionally, in the current academic year, we help as volunteers, whenever possible, the Sisters Oblates. We also discern the possibility of our involvement in the Spei Mater projects http://www.speimater.com/en – help offered to people at risk or affected by abortion. In February, volunteer training will take place in our home and perhaps the project will start in our diocese. Some ask if Spei Mater could have its diocesan headquarters in our convent. We will see how God will lead us and what his will is.
The first months in Spain are a bit like a cloistered life, with a constant rhythm to the day. It is a time to get to know each other, learn about oneself and slowly explore the world to which God has sent us. We pray for unity and love between us. This time is a gift for each of us, a time to grow in faith, to rediscover the beauty of our charism, religious vocation and the strength of community. We offer to God our desires for holiness and our human weaknesses. We ask him to lead us where he wants to have us, to fulfill His plan in us. We are happy! We cordially greet all and ask for your prayer.
Sr. Katarzyna Nowak