Belgium - Some news from our Flemish Sisters

This assignment requires receptiveness with regard to what is different, openness, flexibility, and also knowledge of the culture and the history of the other.

At the beginning of the last century, Mother Marie du Saint Sacrement came to pray at the Cathedral in Antwerp, close to "Notre Dame d’Anvers", concerning the discernment for having an LSA presence in the town. Later, this foundation was made. 
 
At the end of 1930, a few sisters from that community were called and sent to a poor and working-class area in the south of Antwerp. They very soon had to "broaden their tent". In the same district, a small primary school was transformed into a house for the LSA, with the space to receive persons and groups and also a dispensary for the inhabitants of the area. 
 
Since 1986 that house, which was then named "Le Stobbe" of the Mouvement sans Nom, has been at the service of women and their children with difficulties. Some Little Sisters went to live in a house close by so as to be an open and welcoming community presence, a prayerful and pacifying presence in this multicultural and multi-religious district. Here too there is constant coming and going. Our concern and also our joy as an apostolic community is to see people becoming able to fend for themselves. 
 
This house was closed and bought by the eldest son of our Turkish neighbour: he turned it into a house for students. Maria Lauryssens has been received into the "St Camillus" Services and Care Centre run by the Hospitaller Sisters of Antwerp where religious sisters of various Congregations live. Andrea Meire has been living there in one of the sheltered housing units since 2015. Josée Vermeiren is living in the "Maria Boodschap" (the Annunciation to Mary) centre for services and care at Niel, a town near Boom. Ivonne Dombret, Paula Duchâteau et Maria Claus reside in the St Jozef Services and Care Centre run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. 
 
This assignment requires receptiveness with regard to what is different, openness, flexibility, and also knowledge of the culture and the history of the other. 
 
 
Living in a Centre for Services and Care means being in a large community that is composed of old people. Life is completely different. At a certain age we need to let ourselves be helped, while living our mission and charism right to the end. This is in line with our strength and with the faith that gives us life. We meet people whom we had nursed in their home and they recount their memories of the help given by the LSA. 
 
We also find ourselves in a multicultural and multi-religious world; the local mosque and Moslems are our near neighbours. We are helped by staff who come from various places: the Congo, Rwanda, Mali, Poland, Turkey, Morocco, India, Peru and elsewhere. Recently, a new resident, a woman from the Ukraine, came to live among us. 
 
We are living in a setting that has a family atmosphere and which is also one of faith. The Eucharist is celebrated every day and there is the possibility of reciting the rosary together. Every Sunday there is exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Our contacts with the residents take place from day to day at mealtimes, by occasional meetings, by visits to various residents and by the activities that are very well prepared by the staff – they are so creative. We also have coach outings – for a pilgrimage or to enjoy nature. 
 
Through friendly relations and the actions of daily life, we wish to be present in an attentive way among "the little ones" and the aged persons. This new mission field invites us to expose ourselves to the "present day" of God, to live out fully our following of Jesus who came to live among us, and to explore more deeply our hope in the Risen Christ. 
This year, November 2014 to November 2015, we have had fifteen deaths. The funeral Masses are beautiful Resurrection celebrations. On those occasions, and on many others, we admire how the families are welcomed, being part of the large family of the Little Sisters of the Poor. 
 
from right to left :
Sr Paula, Sr Maria, Sr Ivonne
16/02/2016
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