They withdraw in solitude in order to seek the face of God - just as Jesus did. Then they go out from their solitude to help and teach others - again to seek the face of God; again, just as Jesus did. They offer retreats and days of recollection, spiritual exercises and prayer meetings. "They" are the religious sisters from the "Abba, Father" convent, a young religious community founded in 1996, in the diocese of Cruz del Eje; a community likewise blessed with numerous vocations.
The sisters live from the work of their hands, creating religious artworks and tending a tree nursery. However, it is not enough to cover their costs, and so they are still dependent on outside help.
(Novices and junior sisters at the "Abba Father" monastery)
The diocese of Cruz del Eje is also extremely poor, and so Bishop Santiago Olivera cannot support the sisters financially either, although he has the highest regard for this congregation, established by his predecessor. In his letter to the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), he asks for assistance, explaining that the sisters, in making present in the diocese the richness of the contemplative life, "bear witness to the fact that God alone suffices to feel one's life with meaning and joy". He adds, "I thank God for the presence of this convent, which is a gift for the Church."
The sisters live very modestly, but despite this their income is not enough. Above all they cannot afford the cost of training their new vocations. At present there are no fewer than 14 young novices and/or junior sisters who have so far only taken their first, temporary vows. In order to assure them a solid formation, outside teaching staff are brought in, who instruct them in intensive courses. Otherwise there is no way of achieving this formation. The visiting academics have to be reimbursed for their services and travel costs. And of course, books and other teaching materials have to be provided as well.
ACN has promised a grant of $5,500, so that these young sisters can be given the solid training so necessary for their religious life. To help the work of Aid to the Church in Need, please contact the Australian office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 6245 Blacktown DC NSW 2148. Web: www.aidtochurch.org
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