Throughout Lent, the office of Evangelisation and Catechesis are delighted to offer weekly stories of accompaniment & the Hope, Faith, Joy, and Love of Christ from the lay faithful of our diocese in the journey of Missionary Discipleship.

The second reflection is by Alba Cross.

Alba Cross is an 80-year-old widow living in Bournemouth, Dorset.

Alba is a ‘cradle Catholic’.  At 21 she married a non-Catholic, who thirty years later embraced the Catholic faith.  She has been a member of the Secular Franciscan Order since the age of 14.

Very recently I took part in the diocesan formation of Missionary Disciples. From the very first meeting, the Genesis Mission programme intensified my desire to reach out and share the Good News with anyone the Holy Spirit might decide to place on my path.

To meet people face to face, and be able to make eye contact, one usually needs to get out in the world.  My ability to go out is limited by age-related health issues.  Yet, I have faith, and trust in the Holy Spirit.

I had asked Age UK for some home help.  This morning, when the cleaning lady came for the first time, I apologised for my home being so neglected, and briefly explained that “when my husband died – 7 years 4 months and 23 days ago – I lost all interest in worldly matters… lately also in housework”.

At that point, the lady asked, “How have you been able to cope with grief?”  “Faith – I replied – Do you have faith?”  I felt that the Holy Spirit was giving me a gentle push.

“Yes.  My son is a Christian” she replied, and continued, “Why does God give suffering, illness, etc.?”  “God allows suffering. – I said – He created you, me… because He loves us.  Somehow the trust was broken (Adam and Eve or something else) BUT God sent Jesus to redeem the world and bring us back to Him.”

That is when the lady started to talk about her suffering.  I offered to pray for her, which she accepted gratefully, with sparkling eyes.

When she left, I reassured her of my prayers, saying that she should feel protected and loved by Jesus.   Finally, she said “I too will pray for you.  For you to have peace.”

Alba recently attended the 7-week ‘Mission made Possible’ diocesan journey of discipleship. If you would like details on the sessions with a view to taking part, please email jonathan.bielawski@prcdtr.org.uk

Fr. Jon Bielawski has been a priest for 32 years. He heads up the department of Evangelisation and Catechesis for the diocese and is co-founder of Genesis Mission for the formation of Missionary disciples. You can hear more of Fr Jon’s encounters here https://podcast.genesismission.co.uk/