On the last week of July 2022, Servants of the Holy Spirit SSpS Germany Province welcomed junior sisters and their directresses to Berlin from all over Europe. The sisters came from 5 different provinces: Slovakia, Poland, Austria, English/Irish and Germany. The meeting was held in the SVD Society of the Divine Word’s community house. The chosen place, Berlin, has quite an interesting history of our founder Arnold Janssen’s spiritual family because it is one of the few places where SVD priests, brothers and SSpS sisters both active and contemplative work and have missions together. However, sadly, the contemplative sisters had to leave Berlin last February for good while the others are continuing the work and mission there. Nevertheless, throughout the meeting we could still really feel the hospitality and the presence of the supportive environment as brothers and sisters.
Under a theme of Vows of Evangelical poverty, Sr Anna Damas, SSpS,our facilitator, was walking together with the juniors in the process of deepening our understanding of living the vow of Poverty. We were guided to be in touch with the reality of poverty in our daily life, in our community, congregation and in our society. This is where we figured out many kinds of poverty among us not necessarily in material things but also in spiritual matters.
In one of the sessions, we were having a ‘street retreat’ in one of the poorer areas in Berlin where each of us was encouraged to walk out without any possession or belonging and without destination for about four hours. For most of us it was quite challenging because it was done in unfamiliar surroundings and even though just for a few hours, it was confusing for not having an aim or place to go. This experience has brought a new reflection on poverty. There are so many people who do not have a choice in life. On the journey, it was easily noticed that there are some people who are lonely, hungry, homeless, and live in an unsupportive community and environment.
Taking Jesus as our role model, “Christ became poor to make us rich by his poverty”, we place ourselves and all we have at the service of our apostolic mission. It is important to find ways to lives out our vowed commitment by being in solidarity and at one with one another especially those who are vulnerable, lonely and outcasts. Coming from the reality of the shrinking number of members and sources in our congregation, there is a need to transform a mentality of superiority to collaboration by being with rather than doing for or giving.
Sr. Meinar Efel Nahak
Picture – Parliament Building in Berlin