One Year has just ended and our hearts are full of beautiful emotions and joys. We are full of good memories and stories to share. Another year has started with all the hopes and challenges that we will be called to face, entrusting ourselves to God through our Blessed Mother Mary. In January, we prepared a new wooden sign for the entrance to the house because some of us, a few months ago, received the “gift” of a course in woodworking. The training aimed to give us knowledge on working safely and understanding the correct use of different machines. We worked together to make a welcoming wooden board as our gift to Mother Elvira for her birthday.
Also, early in January, Kamil returned to visit his family in Poland. He has been in Community for about two years and such a visit is traditional at this point in a brother’s journey. We call this a “verifica” which is a test of resolve outside the Community. A week later, Tommaso, Bruno and Lukasz flew to Italy for our Mother Elvira’s birthday and when they returned it was good for us to hear about the celebrations that had taken place there. Later in January, Chun Fu returned to Singapore for his “verifica” visit and Kamil returned with Krzysztof, who is also from Poland and is 19 Years old. During this period, we were only five in the house so we all had to commit ourselves to more work and responsibilities. It was beautiful, even though for a short period, to have the chance to live like a small family, growing in friendship and becoming more responsible. At the beginning of February Bruno and Tommaso returned from Italy full of joy and happy having enjoyed time spent with brothers from other parts of the world. While we were listening to their experiences Chun Fu returned from Singapore.
This was first time I attended the feast of our Mother Elvira’s birthday. Apart from the beautiful festive atmosphere I was struck by the great desire of everyone to give thanks to this woman for her courage, her sacrifice and her love in giving her life for others. It was very moving to see old pictures of a woman full of energy and enthusiasm compared with recent ones of a woman who is still vigilant but is now consumed with the effort to live a holy life.
Because I never had the opportunity to know her I tried to figure out how her presence affects the Community and through listening to some witnesses, I am beginning to imagine how that might be. I was also touched deeply by everyone’s awareness and acknowledgment of the presence of God in all this work and the Lord’s personal call to her, which touched her heart, and her generous response. The main message of her story is the living presence of love. First, the Love of God towards others, then the love of a nun for us poor desperate sinners who were dead inside. I truly believe that Mother Elvira’s example is enough to convince us to fight for goodness and to continue our walk, loving all the brothers around us, without limitations, so that we will rediscover ourselves and will be able to be witnesses even outside of the Community.
There were many important times of prayer like the Eucharistic Adoration when we felt united in an atmosphere of great joy and renewed faith. I am deeply thankful to the Community for the gifts I have received.
I will try to explain briefly all that I hold dear in my heart and what I experienced at Mother Elvira’s birthday. I know that it was a great “gift” to be there and to have the opportunity to see and to celebrate with her. Taking part in the festivities was very rewarding. Through all the testimonies and catechises which I heard from priests, consecrated brothers, missionaries, experienced guys, families and exmembers, who spoke about a rebirth and a risen life has made me more aware of how much love and trust Mother Elvira has given freely during 34 Years of Cenacolo Community.
It was wonderful to hear how others called upon their faith and prayers to guide them in their lives. It was also a chance to meet again some of the brothers with whom I spent some of my community journey in Kendal. I’ve never experienced anything like it and celebrating our Mother Elvira was to celebrate the gift of life, its values. I realized that we cannot achieve anything without effort and sacrifice. At the end I understood that our community lives, from the beginning, need cultivation and nurture to bring them to fruition.
Celebration of Mother Elvira’s Birthday at Dodding Green . An 80th Birthday celebration is a high point in anyone’s life and would generally be celebrated with family and friends. And so it was for the celebration of Mother Elvira’s 80th birthday, but with a difference. Her birthday was celebrated in many venues across the world by those who hold Mother Elvira in great affection, respect and love for all that she has done as God’s instrument in helping many thousands of young (and not-so -young) people walk from the darkness to the light.
Just one of those celebrations was held at the British Cenacolo House at Dodding Green in Cumbria. The Fraternity of Our Lady Queen of Martyr’s held a celebratory Mass in thanksgiving for Mother Elvira as requested only a few days earlier by the leaders of the Community in Italy. It was a small celebration by some standards, but non-the-less heartfelt. Some of the lads of the Community had gone to Italy for the celebration there.
Some of the Friends of the Community had gone to the House in Ireland to celebrate there. At Dodding Green the Mass of St Agnes was offered and the scripture for the saint could have been chosen for Mother Elvira; we heard how God chooses what the world would dismiss and overlook to fulfil his plans. After Holy Mass a ‘bun fight’ was held with good conversation and memories of Mother Elvira shared.