JOURNEY WITH ACN is our weekly newsletter regularly posted to our website and designed to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world and introducing you to various projects we have helped to bring into being together with our partners and ACN benefactors.
This week: Slovakia
Help for the care and medical treatment of 20 elderly religious Sisters
The congregation of the Steyler Missionary Sisters was founded in Germany in 1889 and experienced rapid expansion afterward. Today, the Servants of the Holy Spirit (as they are often called) are present in 47 different countries. Initially, they were mainly engaged in education and health care, but later pastoral work and other social and charitable tasks were added to their apostolate.
Faced with the reality of a widespread dwindling of religious faith in Europe, the congregation opted to adopt a broader definition of its missionary mandate. Today “mission” does not only happen in the traditional way by travelling to “missionary lands,” but the sense of mission is brought closer to home, right outside the front door, so to speak.
One of the countries where the congregation can be found is in Slovakia. Many of the Sisters belonging to the congregation are active in the missions abroad, while others are engaged in the important work of the Church at home, for although around 60% of the 5.4 million Slovaks are nominally Catholics, and around half of these still attend church on Sundays, there are some worrisome trends and tendencies. Christian values are fiercely undermined within society and the mass media in particular, (most still in the hands of the communists), continue to promote a relativist and liberalist world view. At the same time the mentality of “God, yes, Church, no!” is being widely pushed, as the media – just like in the West – tend to seize on every real or imagined failing within the Church and under-reporting the good.
Steadily failing health
In the provincial house of the congregation, in the town of Ivanka, near Nitra, there are 20 elderly Sisters living, 15 of whom are also sick. They began their lives as religious back in the time of the communist regime, in what was then Czechoslovakia, and struggled to follow their vocation and serve God and their fellow men despite the hostility of the regime. Their health is steadily failing and they are in need of help. Some of the younger Sisters are caring for their elder sisters in the consecrated life, but they are unable to manage alone. Seven lay carer-givers are lending a hand – but they must be paid. The cost of medication and medical attention is also constantly increasing and needs attention.
Each of the elderly sisters receives a monthly state pension of $468, but this is nowhere near enough to cover the cost of their care and medical attention. The real monthly cost is around $780 for each sister. And so the provincial superior, Sister Lucia has turned to ACN for help.
We have promised to help them with $4,260 this year.