Roses in Romania

Romania and roses go together. There were roses of welcome, roses of gratitude from a very poor family and roses from Rosemary’s garden. There were roses in the cemetery of the Heroes of the Revolution and roses in the Parish Church.

Flowers and thorns—joys and sorrows. It is easy to see the poverty, unemployment and poor health in Bucharest, Romania and the hardship and drudgery in the rural areas. The people who were suppressed by the Communist Regime (by Ceauşescu) from 1940-1989 are slowly emerging from a dark and cruel past. Twenty years since the Revolution which brought down Ceauşescu is a short time in a nation’s history.

When some of us were excited about moving into small communities in Hackney or Bristol, Sister Mary Aloysius and Sister Marie Thérèse looked further afield to Romania. Mercy found a home there and has continued to bring relief to many needy people.

The courage and determination of two “not so young” Sisters of Mercy to go to the country not knowing where to stay, who to contact is a story of faith and inspiration. Their many chance encounters led them to unforeseen joys and sorrows mingled. And now eighteen years on we find that the contacts made in the early days and those made through the Budimex (Marie Curie) Children’s Hospital have led to the development of their initial work. Some of the orphaned children they met in the hospital have been through school and are now at University. Five of these students met us on Sunday at the Hospital to talk about their experiences of the Mercy outreach in Romania. Each one is a recipient of a daily meal while at College – they are the future of their country. They also get a little help towards books and basic needs.

In speaking about Sister Mary Aloysius and Mr. Traian Despa, one student said they were like Mary and Martha. They ring Traian Despa for advice as they have no family themselves so he is their father figure. He expects maximum grades and they do not disappoint. Sister Mary Aloysius provides heart to heart talks and words of encouragement.

Change is evident and the young are full of hope. They long for a time when Romania can be an equal partner in the European Union. They wish to determine the future of their country by their own efforts. They do not want to be the Hotel maids and Bartenders of Southern Europe, while holding an MA from their own Universities. Their faith is evident by their Church attendance. Their expectations are high and they serve God in visitation of the sick poor in their homes and hospitals. They are “Mercy Associates” who continue Catherine’s work.

Sisters Patricia McMahon & Mary McGrath (2009)

Sisters Patricia McMahon & Mary McGrath (2009)

During our time in Romania we met:

Two families in a rural area;

The young volunteers from St Thérèse’s Parish in Bucharest;

The elderly housebound who receive meals daily;

The family cared for at “Nazareth”;

A group of college students;

A single mother raising a large family.

We cannot measure the goodness which our Mercy presence has wrought in Romania but we can be sure that it has been blessed in countless ways.

Signs of God’s presence are abundant in Romania. You only have to step inside the beautiful Orthodox Churches where the Icons express a faith strong enough to survive the Communist regime and now are needed more than ever in an uncertain future.

Mercy Mission in Romania

Mercy Mission in Romania

So we hold the Romanian Mission, Sister Mary Aloysius, Traian Despa and all their associates in our prayer and we ask God’s guidance for the future.

God Bless Romania and God bless our Mercy Mission.

Bucharest, 2009

Sister Patricia McMahon
Sister Mary McGrath

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