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Tuesday, 10 February 2015 23:07

Albany: a new step


 In Rubik, a first phase has been lived for 3 years by Sr. Marlyse with a sister of another congregation ; at the end of the experience, the sister went to join another community of her congregation.  During the summer, two sisters, one from Elbasan and another one from Tirana came to help in the summer camps organized for the children.  

At the same time, some refurbishment has been carried out in our house : the veranda, bathrooms, division of a room in two and painting. The pastoral work continued but during the two months, they consecrated some of their time to tidy and to clean the house.

Sr Marlyse writes :

"As from September, the community started afresh with a new reality ; we begin to write the first page of the new missionary reality.  In September, while I remained in my place, I welcomed Sr. Luisantonia who came to join me ; she had to find her points of reference in the community and in the reality where she had been sent, after having lived in the school of Elbasan as an Italian teacher and then in the community of Durres. The change is certainly far-reaching. 

For several weeks we were alone in the community as we waited for Sr. Adeline who still had various activities to fulfil in Tirana, but especially she was getting prepared for her final vows. We thus had time to think, to organize the house, make acquaintance with all the persons who knocked at our door but also to get to know each other.   

After the arrival of Sr. Adelina, we organised ourselves as a community. We primarily programmed the various activities of the cultural centre. It’s a big job which entails numerous meetings but we were helped by our parish priest who is the director of the professional school of Rreshen.

So far, the centre has welcomed numerous groups and in 4 months, the activities were many. Our centre bears the same name of our curate Doci, who is a native of   Rubik (his house still exists) and therefore, in preparation to the Pope’s visit in Albany, he dedicated one whole day to help us : he placed his presentation on the maxi posters together with other documents and personal objects, conferences made by different personalities and an exhibition of paintings representing his family, his house, the church of Orosh where he had worked (the only one which remained after the dictatorship with that of Rubik,) but even souvenirs or traditions dating back to his time.   

Once or twice a year we welcome also the Red Cross for the collection of blood. We spend a whole morning to raise awareness, and 2 nurses and a doctor come for this activity. The second time we organised this event, we noticed the perplexity of some people who believed that we sell the blood which they give us gratuitously. Another aspect consists in the fact that many people cannot give their blood due to health problems (low blood pressure or heart problems, anaemia and many other problems such as drugs and alcohol). Last time we collected only 2½ litres of blood in five hours.    

The centre welcomes different groups such as the aerobics group and the communal council ; a play room for children is also required. The fixed lessons are those of folkloristic dance, ciftelia (a typical Albanian musical instrument), zither, after school lessons of Italian and English, drama and cooking; lunch is offered to 8 children twice a week.   

There is also the pastoral aspect of the mission. For the catechesis, we divided ourselves to welcome one or two groups of children and youths hailing from 7 villages. Even the adults ask for individual preparation in view of their baptism or that of their smaller children. We pay many visits to families but we give priority to the sick, the elderly or  poor families with problems regarding their children. About four times a year there are preparations to organise concerts with the help of directors and school teachers and even the mayor. Every now and then, the dancing and the “ciftelia” groups are invited to contribute by participating in concerts or in cultural competitions. For these youths, it’s always an opportunity for openness, to see other persons, other ways of living and behaviour. All this serves also as a stimulation for renewal and progress. Three fourths of the facilitators are paid by an Austrian association and even the parish offers its financial help to pay certain voyages. 

We follow about fifteen families who receive a monthly wage. The future project is to create a small physiotherapy unit where Sr. Adeline would be able to work. We don’t know how things will turn up; but for the moment, we are about to refurbish two rooms within the centre while adding a bathroom and a waiting room.     

It takes time to walk with people, but we know that they love us. In the city centre there is great movement. The inhabitants come from all parts, but the problem is unemployment. 

It’s not easy to create a community, because many people pretend to be catholic while they are not baptized or they are indifferent for various reasons. 

Anyhow, the Lord promises us his presence which helps us to renew our hope.  Here lies our strength, because together we are stronger. Thank you for your communion and your prayer.            

Sr. Marlyse Berra, Rubik, January 2015

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