It was Chris Noronha who presented to Pope Francis, with a style of simplicity, his history and the experience of the Catholic community in Bahrain. The girl, a pastoral worker, spoke on Sunday morning, November 6, during the prayer meeting at the Sacred Heart Church.
“Having been born in Bahrain – she told the Pontiff – I was baptized here in the church of the Sacred Heart and my parents gave me the name Chris because they were grateful to God and wanted me to be closer to him, since I was born ten years later. Their wedding”.
“What fascinated me as a child – she confided – was the devotion of all the faithful, regardless of race, color, language or nationality: all gathered as a family, singing in unison, in the mother church, here in Manama, which was filled to the maximum ».
“Over the years the community has grown,” the woman said. And «with the construction of the new church of the Sacred Heart, the community has continued to grow in number and strength, with the creation of different groups and ministries. In all this, the devotion of the faithful has remained steadfast ».
“I personally witnessed – he said – the trials faced by many migrants who left their families in their homeland to work here, in order to support their loved ones with their meager wages. They struggle for hours and hours and their only consolation at the end of the day is that they have made a difference to their families’ future financial security. Being so far away from loved ones, sometimes for years, is a real test of faith and this is where the Church makes a difference. We all gather here to pray, asking God to give us the strength to overcome these trials. Many want someone to listen to them with empathy as they express their innermost feelings of insecurity and fear. I know that we find our peace in Jesus ».
“Over the years,” Chris relaunched, we are seeing “the commitment, dedication and energy that many spend through community service. Our shepherds, the priests, have changed but the care and concern with which they take care of their flock remains constant. I know I was lucky enough to grow up here in the kingdom of Bahrain, a country where tolerance and religious freedom are a way of life ».
Addressing the Pope, the woman said “thank you for being a messenger of peace and good will”. Following the example of Francis, she added, “we can all seek peace, lighting candles of hope, even if small, with our words, actions and prayers, hoping for a better and brighter future”. And you concluded by asking the Pontiff to continue “to pray for us, just as we promise to pray for you”.
As religious between young people and prisoners
«I, Sister Rose Celine, would like to give you a summary of our life and our mission». It is always with a style of simplicity and frankness that Sister Rose Celine also presented herself to Pope Francis during the prayer meeting. “The sisters of the Apostolic Carmel, the first of the Carmelites to be an active missionary congregation, were pioneers in the education of girls and in the formation of the faith,” she told the Pontiff. “We began our missionary journey in the kingdom of Bahrain – he said – on January 3, 2003, after our foundation in Kuwait”. And «Bahrain, known as the ‘land of smiles’, welcomed us warmly».
“The compassionate and merciful love of the Father pushes us to commit ourselves to the service of our people” continued Sister Rose: “We are witnesses to the abundance of God’s mercy, which warms the heart and rekindles hope in the lives of many. We are also involved in prison ministry. In particular, we spend time with the inmates, praying with them, sharing the Word of God and offering them advice ”.
“Our presence here – continued the nun – is a unique sign that God gathers us wherever we are and leads us in new and unknown ways towards our goal, which is lived under the motto:” God alone is enough ” “.
In particular, she explained, “we sisters are involved with various groups in the Church, including the Legion of Mary. The weekly meetings offer us a great opportunity for growth in our spirituality through prayer and communion. Together with the legionaries we visit hospitals, sick people and needy families ».
“We see that the world around us is changing by leaps and bounds,” added Sister Rose. “This rapid change – she continued – is raising new challenges and much of what was familiar to us is becoming ambiguous. Yet we respond creatively to today’s needs, being mediators of change, hope and transformation both inside and outside our community ”.
“To help today’s young people – he pointed out – we are committed to the catechetical ministry, helping students in their formation to the faith, so that they can be ready to respond to the rapid changes that surround them and to face any challenge that arises. We offer them opportunities – by organizing quizzes, talent shows and various other activities – to improve their leadership, communication and creative thinking skills ». Above all, “we prepare students and adults to receive the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Confirmation”.
«Our foundress, the venerable mother Veronica, gave us an inheritance that springs from her experience of God as her ‘All’» said Sister Rose. «Following in her footsteps – she assured her – we sisters strive to nurture greater faith and a greater commitment to Jesus in the members of Fiori del Carmelo, a lay association for our students. We teach and share the charism of apostolic Carmel through various activities and fraternities, educating young people to live and transform the world according to the values of truth, justice, love, peace ».
“In addition to all these activities with people of different nationalities, we participate in the meetings of the parish council and all the events of the Church” he added, recalling that “during the pandemic, we assisted the priests who celebrated the Eucharist in different languages”.
Sister Rose concluded her testimony by reaffirming that “our blessed Mother, queen and beauty of Carmel, is our model and encourages us to put ourselves at the service of the Church and the people of God”. With this strength, “as far as possible, let us radiate the joy of the Gospel within and around us”.