Looking back on two years spent in the Irish Province
Maria Jésus de Souza, Spiritan Lay Missionary and Associate
I arrived in Dublin on 19th February 2014. Though it was grey, rainy and cold, my desire to stay in Ireland, to meet people and to learn English warmed my heart. Made very welcome and experiencing so many kindnesses, I had very positive first impressions. Starting a really exciting adventure, everything was new and many things, especially communicating in English in the early days, were a challenge. For the first seven months, I dedicated myself fully to study. It wasn’t easy at the start, but when the knowledge of the language came, it was so wonderful. I really enjoyed walking to school, studying hard, and gaining new knowledge and friends.
After finishing my English course I taught handcrafts to women’s groups in SPIRASI, Ardbraccan and Kimmage Parish and I also worked with a small group of confrères in Kimmage. I really enjoyed this experience and I discovered talents that I never knew I had! I met amazing people who became very good friends of mine and I learnt a lot with - and from - them. I thank God for these experiences. I also give thanks to God and to the Irish Province for the support provided so that I could live and study with the community in Kimmage Manor.
In Ireland I had the time to pray more, to be in silence, to think about life in its different aspects and to know people and the culture. The beauty of Ireland’s nature made me much more contemplative. God was with me and His presence was revealed to me in so many ways.
Each life experience brings joy, learning and new discoveries as well as difficulties and challenges. I had the opportunity to experience many things during my time in Ireland. Sometimes I had to adapt to changing situations, learning with patience and hope, through prayer, love and discernment that all things take time to be what they have to be. Being a good presence can make a big difference in people’s lives and being in missionary life, being open, assimilating news and facing the challenges of life demand courage, wisdom and maturity.
Having left Ireland in March 2016, I was able to spend a fortnight with my family at home in Mato Grosso do Sul, in mid-west Brazil. This was a really special time for me - and for them as well - as it was my first time to celebrate Easter with them since I left home to be a missionary some thirty years ago. I was also able to visit some Spiritan communities in São Paulo. I am now in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia where I’m preparing the Spiritan Training Center which will open to the public in July this year. We will emphasise income-generation for the poor as well as care for children. We really have many challenges and needs. Maybe you can help us!
Before finishing, ‘thanks, thanks and thanks again’. Everybody I met in Ireland was important, each bringing something new to my life. I learned, not only English, but so many other things. With affection and gratitude, may God’s love and mercy be with you all now and always.