• May 12, 2011

The beginnings of our Austrian center -
Marylouise’s testimonial

facade of our appartement

Four months after the arrival of the first two mem­bers of the Austrian team in Vienna, our center was offi­cially inau­gu­rated last Tuesday 10th May, during Father Thierry’s visit to the Austrian cap­ital.

We want to share with you some extracts of Marylouise’s letter about these very first steps :

"Overwhelming. I think that is the most ade­quate way to describe them—all the sto­ries and expe­ri­ences I want to share with you, all the graces and mir­a­cles the Lord has given me, all the thank­ful­ness I have for your sus­taining prayers and sup­port—I am over­whelmed.

My expe­ri­ence thus far has been none other than a return to infancy. It is appro­priate that the birth of our mis­sion coin­cided with the birth of Christ, for how did Christ change the world? He was born. He came to be with us, to be the most humble teacher. I had ambi­tion, a col­lege degree, and what I thought to be inex­haustible love welling up in my heart when I arrived in Vienna on December 14th. Yet I soon found that all the strength and wealth I thought I had to give through this mis­sion of pres­ence was naught. I had to learn every­thing anew and be expanded, stretched, and molded by God’s grace. In this way, the poverty I have expe­ri­enced has been my greatest trea­sure. Every person and event has become a mother, father, teacher, and guide.

Like Sidonia; We were walking down the street one after­noon when Alina told me that we were going to stop and speak to the woman beg­ging a few steps in front of us. “We pass her by and smile at her almost every­day—I want to know her name,” she said. So we did—we sat right down next to her, intro­duced our­selves, and from that day on there wasn’t a week that went by that we didn’t greet Sidonia—a Romanian mother of three boys who could not get work in Romania so she came to Vienna to beg everyday so she can feed her three boys, and hope­fully have some left­over money to buy medicine for her youngest son who has been sick for two months. If we are not hur­rying because we are late to mass, we always sit down with her, exchange the usual European embrace (double cheek kiss) and attempt to com­mu­ni­cate. She cannot really speak much German, and I cannot speak Romanian, so we get by with mixes of lan­guages, hand ges­tures, and even drawing pic­tures. Over two months she is no longer a woman on the street we were reaching out to—this strong and beau­tiful woman is my friend.

Alina and I were living with Monika – a native Austrian and a former Heart’s Home vol­un­teer in Naples, Italy - for the first two and a half months because of many unfore­seen delays with the apart­ment. We were so excited when the last day in February arrived and we moved into our new home. For the next month and a half, we set to work cleaning every sur­face in the apart­ment from the soot left behind from years of a poorly ven­ti­lated, wood-burning stove. All of these incon­ve­niences are outweighed by joy and thank­ful­ness for another friend who offers to spend a Saturday helping us paint, another who comes over unan­nounced with full sets of sil­ver­ware and glass­ware to donate, and another who tells us where we can find an entire free kitchen.

I am thankful also because it seems as if the time we have spent cleaning, re-cleaning, scrub­bing, painting, the Lord is doing the same work on my soul. He is scrub­bing, sweeping, mop­ping the floors, washing and repainting the walls, refur­bishing the appli­ances and redec­o­rating the rooms of my soul so as to make the dwelling fit for His pres­ence."

our appartment - facade Inauguration Mass at Karmeliterkirche : Fr. Thierry, Fr. Jacques, Fr. (...) Inauguration : talk by Father Thierry on Heart's Home mission First Autrian team : Alina - Ukrania and Maryloiuse - USA our appartment - getting ready! our appartment Father Jacques, Monika, Alina
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