Charism in practice
This year, it will be thirty years since I entered our Motherhouse in Wrocław for the first time. One could say that “thirty years have passed as one day …” It was then that I heard for the first time about our Father John, the charismatic Founder of the Congregation. I wrote about the fact that I “fell in love” with him at first sight. Now I want to share what it resulted for many years …
Discovering the charism of the Founder, Congregation, community was for me like looking for an answer to the question about my own identity. During the first holiday meeting, I heard my friends’ admiration for the very current message we have as a Congregation …. The way of transforming the 19th century reality into modern language and the needs that I saw around led me to the conclusion that this “contemporary and timeless ”For me, the charismatic message is CARE FOR THE DIGNITY OF A WOMAN. The form in which it will be possible and to whom it is addressed is a secondary matter. For me, this is a message that is ALWAYS AND ANYWHERE UP-TO-DATE and possible. And if so, there is no excuse that it is impossible, that you cannot take action …
The Founder wrote to us that “we are to be handmaids of servants and serve those whom the world despises.” And if the world despises, it is the DIGNITY of those who are weak, dependent, not self-sufficient, that is under threat and underestimated. That is why concern for DIGNITY and appreciation of the person next to me became the center of my attention, care, prayer and work.
“I cannot thank you, Lord,
because my words are small
Please accept my silence
and teach me to thank you with my life. ”
It’s a chorus of a famous song that I made many years ago into my personal prayer … and I try to implement it in everyday life. I am really sincerely grateful to God for allowing me to experience the possibilities of work and care for the Dignity of a woman for many years. Because that’s what I have been doing for many years at Bardo.
“I was looking for a man” ready with me to give his heart to those whom the world despises, who are helpless, lonely, hurt, despised or only helpless and humble … I believe that help “before it is too late” can save life, hope, joy … and when one man is saved, the whole world is saved!
To create one safe and friendly place for those in need, you don’t need much, but at the same time you need so much – WHOLE HEART! The search for enthusiasts ready to come out against poverty with an attempt to break the chain of helplessness, ready to face the maze of confusing regulations and changing rules, beyond which the most important is MAN and his DIGNITY resulted in the establishment of the Association to help women in crisis, which in honor of the Founder was called: ” Marian Union “. We are here to help in a crisis (difficult situation) and to care for the dignity of every human being, to help “before it is too late”. A crisis means a time of breakthrough, a turning point, a decisive turn, and a period of collapse. Whenever a person experiences a crisis, they feel lonely, different, defective or maladjusted. And that’s why he should seek help from other people to reverse the downward spiral … and that before it’s too late! And one must always hope, because hope is the basis of human existence, “which cannot fail, because it is poured into hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5: 5).
In order to help people in difficult and breakthrough situations, restore their self-confidence and their own dignity, the Association undertakes specific actions:
- Runs the “Hope” Crisis Intervention Center, which over time expanded its activities to include Crisis Intervention Points in the area.
- Runs a 24-hour Hostel for people experiencing violence in four counties
- Runs the “ASLAN” Psychological Help Room for Children and Families.
At our doorstep you can receive support, legal, psychological, and above all human and spiritual help. Our clients come with a baggage of worries and go into their everyday life with hope. Those who lack security and close, kind people also find a home with us for several months. Yes, it is a house and not only a safe shelter, as the Founder asked, that our houses “become a second family home for the women staying with us”. Sometimes someone stays with us for a short time and comes back still lost to his uncertain reality. But there are also some women who make important decisions about changes in their lives and really come out to others …
We are happy with every person who left us with “new hope” and motivation to make positive changes in their lives. This action will not be reflected in the numbers, because even if it was only a few people per year, it would be WORTH the trouble, because “He who saves one man’s life saves the whole world” (Thomas Keneally, from the book Schindler’s List) and we are after to “help before it’s too late.”
In addition to the “Nadzieja” Crisis Intervention Center that has been run so far, our Association has started a new form of assistance since May 2019, which is the “ASLAN” Psychological Help Room for Children and Families. Taking up new challenges, we have developed the range of proposed forms of help with a more specialized branch – helping children with sensory integration problems. It is a big problem at the present time, which is a serious crisis in everyday life for children and their families. By helping the child – we help the family in crisis. So “ASLAN” is another form of implementing the principle “we are here to help before it’s too late”. Society despises people with disabilities – no matter what kind – difference or dependency is often a reason for rejection or contempt. Again, I have my opportunity to CARE FOR DIGNITY and to be charismatic in the spirit of our Founder.
Our association is a tiny entity. We have only twenty members and a small territorial and informational reach (we try to expand the information to the best of our ability). We employ 5 people under a contract of employment and two more on request. Based on our limited human, budget and housing resources, we have been running the “Hope” Crisis Intervention Center for years, which has already become a permanent part of the “aid map” of the surrounding area. For less than two years, we have additionally had the Study Room and the SI Room, which are slowly constituting our activities, contributing to the overall development of the work as a whole. We respond to various needs of people who come to us, and we adapt many of the new forms of help to the needs, precisely in order to “help before it is too late”.
I am proud to be able to directly help those in need and those “whom the world despises”, I enjoy my work. Sometimes it is not easy, but I keep opening up to new challenges, taking advantage of even small possibilities and enjoying helping the “individual”. – ABOUT YOURSELF. Hence, about my work for the DIGNITY of the people entrusted to me, I say that it is creative (unique every time) and personal (individual).
And one more, “youngest” way of caring for DIGNITY – this year there will be a three-day retreat in Częstochowa in the Valley of Mercy, during which we will focus on the dignity and identity of women. Their title and “calling slogan”: “To be a woman, to be a woman …” We have already taken up this topic in Bardo during the workshops, and now I can invite everyone for three days in May (07-09.05.2021 contact with the Valley of Mercy in Częstochowa). Rediscovering the identity, dignity, endowment and vocation of a woman in imitation of Mary, the Most Beautiful Woman, is a great joy and passion for me. I invite you to do it with me, in the spirit of the charism of the Servant of God, Father John Schneider!
Sr. M. Dorota Frendenberg