Sisters of Saint Joseph of Annecy

A note on a journey……home away from home

It was our great privilege to be chosen to come to the English Province.  As Martin Luther King says, “Take the first step in faith, you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” We began our physical journey on 4th September 2019, setting out into the unknown.  However, we had begun our preparations for this new “overseas” mission, many months before. The sadness of being separated from our loved ones and Motherland was lightened by the warm welcome we received from our Sisters.

After a long journey we reached Heathrow Airport, London, in the early evening and had to wait quite a while for all the formalities to be completed by Border Control. We were very tired, not having slept much the night before, but were delighted to find that Sisters Breda and Teresa Krystyna were waiting to meet us. Although it was getting late we still had another journey to make to Llantarnam Abbey in Wales and, needless to say, we slept for most of it!  We had heard about the Abbey but could not imagine what it would be like. We were really surprised that, although it was so late, many of the Sisters were there to welcome us. So, we reached our new home in the darkness and had to wait until the next morning to see our surroundings.

The following day we were introduced to the other Sisters and taken around the house and grounds in order to become familiar with our new home. We became more and more excited as we discovered new things.  At the beginning it was difficult to adjust to the food and new “sleep patterns” but it became easier as the days went on. We felt that time was passing slowly but we were grateful for the opportunity to relax and to settle into a new way of life before beginning English classes in Cwmbran and working with the Sisters in the Infirmary and community.

Nothing becomes real until it is experienced.  There are no foreign lands or foreigners for a Sister of St. Joseph as we belong to an international family.  This has become a reality in our lives as we experience the warmth, care, affection and thoughtfulness which are being lavished upon us, making us feel proud to be part of this “Little Design”.Our Sisters are helping us to settle “legally” into the country as we complete all the formalities that are required. Many aspects are quite unique and unfamiliar to us, so it is taking time for us to get used to them.

Life is like a train of moods; like a string of beads and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many coloured lenses which paint the world their own hue…  Our lives are coloured with many new beginnings as we prepare for the IELTS (English) exams with students of other nationalities, meeting people in the local parishes, learning new skills such as playing the guitar as well as animating prayer sessions with the old and frail Sisters who encourage us as they share their life experiences.  We now feel that we belong fully to the Llantarnam Abbey Community and eagerly await the time when we pass our exams and can be even more involved in its life and mission.

We realise that there is something incredibly honest about saying “Yes” to the will of God, for God takes the lead and is our predecessor.  We often think that holding on makes us strong, but it is the letting go which opens the door for new beginnings.  We feel that we are nurtured by the tender loving care of our dear Sisters whose example of contentment and optimism gives us great encouragement. So now we are welcoming every new moment realising that one day they will be happy memories.

Sisters Punitha and Jessy