Dear Religious Family;
We want to share with you the exciting news of the foundation of the first SSVM community in Belgium, which officially took place in the context of the solemn Mass celebrated on February 10. Although this is the first foundation of our Institute in this country, it’s not the first foundation of the Religious Family. For more than 10 years, our Third Order members have been present here. Founding in Belgium is not like founding in a distant and unknown land, but in place where our Family is already present. For years, the members of our Third Order have prayed and offered sacrifices so that the sisters might found here.
On February 7–first Friday of the month, dedicated to the Sacred Heart– we, M. Porta Coeli (Provincial Superior) and Sisters Mãe de Deus, Am Kreuz, Fleur du Carmel, and Reina del Paraíso, left Holland heading towards Velzeke, a small town south of Gent, a well-known Belgian city. Awaiting us there was the rector of the convent of the “Grauwzusters Penitenten” (the name literally means Gray Penitent Sisters), an order founded in the 14th century which lived according to the Third Order of Saint Francis. The present convent dates back to the same year of foundation of the Grauwzusters and has maintained its status as a home to religious, which has housed many who have consecrated their lives to penance, prayer, and care for the sick. Later, the Grauwzuster would found a hospital which continues to function today as a psychiatric hospital.
A Foundation of the Whole Province
Saturday, February 8, we spent “investigating” our new home, where it’s quite easy to get lost due to the number of rooms and hallways. Little by little, we began the preparations for the Holy Mass and celebration of the foundation that would take place on Monday, February 10, the feast of Saint Scholastica.
On Sunday, February 9, in spite of a big storm that hit several countries in Northern Europe (BENELUX: Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg), the sisters of our province on mission in Holland and in Luxembourg traveled with great sacrifice to Velzeke to help with the organization of the feast and the foundation, so important for our Province and for the entire Religious Family. We’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of the sisters of the Province “Nuestra Señora Puerta de la Aurora,” who have all truly collaborated in this foundation, be it by their prayers, by the practical organization of the feast (choir for the Holy Mass, decorations, cooking, serving, fogón, etc.), or by assisting with the daily needs of the sisters in the newfound community. Also present for the foundation were the members of the Third Order in Belgium and the IVE Priests on mission in Holland.
After the Holy Mass, the particular intention for which the contemplatives will pray was announced: that the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary might reign in society by means of the apostolate and the sanctification of the laity, especially for the members of our Third Order. The patroness of the contemplative community is St. Lutgard (1182-1246), a Belgian Cistercian nun, known for being one of the first mystics to have exchanged hearts with Our Lord. The patron of the apostolic community is the great missionary of the Sacred Hearts Father Damien of Molokai (1840 – 1889), who is also Belgian.
May Saint Lutgard and Father Damien of Molokai intercede for this foundation so that this new presence of the Servidoras in Belgium may be a channel through which God pours forth an abundance of graces upon souls.
Please keep us in your prayers! ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
¡Viva La Mission!
In the Sacred Hearts
The Servidoras in Velzeke, Belgium