Life in a little village

A little village in England, two sisters, one Indian and one Polish ; one pilgrimage, two shrines, one Anglican, one Catholic…that is the daily life of our little sisters in Walsingham.

With a smile

Surprises and unexpected events happen in everyone’s life. When Dorinha asked me to go to England as part of my renewal, I immediately said yes even though she told me to take time to think it over. The Bishop of the Walsingham diocese sponsored me and the long stay visa came very quickly. Seven months have passed since I came to the fraternity in Walsingham. For centuries, it has been a well-known place of pilgrimage to our Lady for both Anglicans and Catholics.

When I first arrived in England, I spent a week in London. I was happy to meet the little sisters and see some of the famous sights in this huge and crowded city.  The little sisters welcomed me very warmly.  Their openness made me feel at home and find my place rather quickly.  Since the fraternity has been here for many years, they have lots of contact with people.  What I appreciate very much is that even if I am not well know to them, people come forward to greet me and say a word with a smile. Now I too take the initiative to say hello.

A month after arriving in Walsingham, I found a job in the Catholic Shrine not far from the fraternity. I go five days a week from 12 to 4. Since it is a national Shrine, pilgrims come from different diocese and communities. But the majority of them originate from India and Sri Lanka.  Beside other tasks, I spend a lot of time with pilgrims listening to them. Often, they ask for prayers and share with me the struggles they go through as well as the graces they receive.  Many express their appreciation for the simplicity of the shrine which is situated in beautiful country side.  I often see them making a return visit to give Mother Mary thanks for the blessings they obtained. I can say with conviction that this little village which is called England’s Nazareth is filled with the grace and peace of God. Whoever comes here will not return with an empty heart.
I live this lovely time here with joy and gratitude with the support and encouragement of the little sisters in my community. L.srs. Kathy and Kasia Barbara also work in different milieu and Pat stays at home and goes to visit friends. At the end of each day, our sharing and prayer turn our individual missions into a community mission. There are ups and downs, but we manage to let go of things and carry on. Elsamma

Keep courage

When I have a day off work, (I work in a supermarket), I often like to go down to the beach at Wells next the Sea.  It’s only 5 miles away from Walsingham.  People who know me, know that I have always been fascinated by fossils and love to investigate what has been washed up by the tide.

About 7 years ago I was strolling the beach when I suddenly caught sight of a micraster (fossilized sea urchin).  As I picked it up and examined it, a man walked by and looked at what I was doing.  We struck up a conversation but I couldn’t help noticing how ill he looked.  His skin was yellowish, he had no hair and had difficulty walking.  He told me that this was his last holiday as he was dying of cancer.  I was speechless and didn`t know what to answer.  Anything I might say would be so superficial.  At the end of our conversation, I just handed him the micraster and said, Keep courage, see you one day”. (meaning, see you one day in front of God).

I often thought of him on other visits to the beach, wondering if he was still alive.  So I was astonished a few weeks ago when a man walked up to me with a big smile on his face.  I didn’t have a clue who he was but he said to me, “Do you remember that we met 7 years ago on this beach and you gave me a micraster?”  It all came back in a flash.  I would never have recognized him now.  He now had hair and a healthy complexion.  He then went on to tell me his story.  He had been in hospital for long and painful treatment.  On the table next to his bed, he had kept my micraster.  He had remembered my words and repeated them to himself.  One day a nice nurse noticed his fossil and asked him about it.  He explained that it was a fossilized sea urchin.  That’s how they started chatting and the conversation grew each day.  From his smile, I could tell that the chat with the nurse had been a good one!

He has now been cancer free for 3 years and the nurse is now his wife.  They had come to Wells next the Sea for a holiday.  He asked me, “Do you remember what you said to me?… Keep courage and see you one day.”  So that day had come.  After some time we were joined by a young woman and we went for coffee.  He told her that I was the one who had given him the sea urchin. 

When I joined the Little Sisters, it meant giving up on a career as a paleontologist.  Somehow people seemed more important than rocks.  But I have often been struck by how God didn’t take that love for rocks away but they became a means by which he gave me people.  “Keep courage” are words that I often repeat to myself and it’s what I wish each one of you! Kasia-Barbara