June 27, 2020

CARITAS – A PIECE OF HEAVEN ON EARTH

from Sr. M. Joanna Bartyś / Poland

From May 3 to May 31, 2020,

Sister M. Joanna Bartyś

spent time as a volunteer in the 2nd Department of Health and Care Facility, which is managed by the Caritas of the Archdiocese of Warsaw. Corona virus disease affected the patients and much of the staff at the facility. In this situation, the management of the facility asked the consecrated communities for voluntary help. Our sister M. Joanna was one of a group of sisters and brothers from different communities who took up this challenge. After finishing this task, she went through the quarantine period and had the mandatory examinations. Then she could come back to our community in Otwock-Ś wider. She tells of her experiences from that time:

Our human life is filled with different events, situations, encounters, conversations. The majority are the events that take place naturally in our everyday lives to which we usually do not attach great importance because we take them for granted. However, we know very well that if we stop and look deeper into the events of life for traces of the divine Presence, we can discover the greeting of God that confirms our path and encourages us to fulfill his will.

SERVICE OF LOVE to the sick

With such an inner conviction, which did not result from a certainty, but from trust in God, I set off on Good Shepherd Sunday to LOVE the sick in the Health and Care Facility of the CARITAS of the Archdiocese of Warsaw. My voluntary service in caring for the sick coincided with the difficult times when the patients and a large part of the staff were infected with the corona virus.

Patients who have been fighting disability and physical pain for a long time were confronted with additional suffering during this time. They experienced the need for several months of isolation from relatives, the suspension of their rehabilitation measures and the lack of a pastor in their facility. Such a situation can only be endured – with peace in the heart – for people who believe deeply, who know that suffering is a way to the goal and death is a gate to it!

But for people who lost this perspective of heaven years ago, and even more so for those who have not yet accepted the truth, everyday life in such circumstances became dark, bleak, and even hopeless.

Brightening people’s longing with the light of Christ

Our fraternal and sisterly service – we were consecrated people from different communities who represented different charisms, who very quickly created a community of the united mission – in addition to all the necessary care work,  had above all this goal: the great longing to illuminate the light of Christ for these people. Only God knows what has happened in this time in the hearts of the people who have been given us by Divine Providence. But the patient’s bright eyes again, the real, deep joy, indicate that God wanted us there and was present in our ministry. When saying goodbye to a woman who used to be very “doubtful”, the words came up: “Sister, until the meeting there, which says: ‘Eye has not seen and ear has not heard ..’”

Community in the Holy Spirit

One of the great lay people we worked with said that such a beautiful community could only be created by the Holy Spirit: a community of people who did not know each other, at different ages, from different religious orders, from different parts of Poland and even from different countries came to perform different services – from the medical, to the nursing service, to the order and disinfection service!

“Our God is close and asks us to be close; not to separate ourselves from each other. (…) We may not be able to physically approach each other for fear of infection, but we can awaken an attitude of mutual closeness within us. It is possible – with prayer, with help, with many types of closeness”. These words from Pope Francis, which he spoke at the beginning of the pandemic, very nicely reflect my personal experience: the closeness of my fellow sisters and many other people who accompany me and everyone to whom I have been sent.

This spiritual closeness in prayer, in sacrifice … gave me strength. I would like to express my sincere thanks for the spiritual unity in the COMMUNITY fulfilled with all who were committed – on my behalf and in the name of all staff and patients!