Hey, my name is Rasa, I am 27 years old and I am taking my first steps to… Become a sister ! Yes, to serve God and to serve people with all my life. As nothing happens in life by accident, the fact that I met one sister of Divine Providence back in 2016 was quite decisive for me. I started a great journey where I got to know myself more deeply and discovered my vocation.
Today I am here because these sisters have a big dream - to open a convent in Utena, a town in north-east Lithuania where sisters would live and welcome people. Let me tell more about them and their story.
How did I met them?
So back in 2016 I lived in Vilnius. Then while searching where to live I met an enthusiastic sister Dominyka. We went to McDonalds to have an ice-cream and a chat. (Yes, sometimes religious do eat ice-creams!) Soon later I met other sister Paulina. What intrigued me and touched me was how these sisters were open and genuinely interested in people that they met. While their blue habit made them look differently like those who live mystical life and do nothing but the prayer, they were surprisingly down to earth people. I saw how they searched to provide people around them in a very material way, like helping people to move in a new place or help planting trees ! But they also were deeply sensitive of human and spiritual needs - they found time for those who need conversations to share doubts or laughs, to be comforted.
Who are these sisters of Divine Providence?
Back then little I knew that there are more of these sisters and that they are in other cities. Later on I meet those sisters who worked in the schools as teachers, took care of sick people, worked in parishes with youth or in the day care center with Roma people. They follow example of their founder - teacher, nurse and public figure Marija Rusteikaitė. Her vocation was to serve the children, youth and families and especially the poor people of the beginning of 20th century, sisters continue and develop her mission in 21 century.
Beginning of the new mission...
In 2012 these two sisters Dominyka and Paulina followed the invitation and moved in Utena, a town that they weren’t familiar with. Back then other community lived there but couldn’t continue their mission. A house they arrived was in quite deplorable state - wind was blowing through doors and windows. Sisters didn’t know anyone in town. What their mission should be here? They started to create the bond with neighbours and other local people and they were warmly welcomed. Soon they got familiar with parish people, neighbours and with their needs. They invited people to come to a convent - to meet one another, to have a prayer time,to have tea and conversations. Little by little the first steps of their place and a concrete mission in this town started to emerge. For sisters it became clear that this house should not only serve as they living place but also as open house for those who long for community, seek to grow in their faith and get to know themselves better. Sisters should welcome all.
Concretely, to make this happen, it was necessary to have a house reconstruction. It was an average size family house and not adapted to welcome groups of people due to lack of space. A general house state also needed reconstruction. So sisters decided to take a brave step and to start reconstruction starting from extending house foundation.
In this convent would live up to 6 sisters that are in period of formation and those who are discerning their vocation would be welcomed there. Apart from that, different programs and initiatives held by sisters and lay people would take place in this convent. Sisters have idea to make activities for the most social vulnerable groups such as elder people and those with mental handicap. Also they would welcome groups for retreat or formation time. There would also be continuous Christian education programs for those who wants to deepen their faith. Almost every weekend sisters would welcome different groups.
What for are those 62 000 euros?
Reconstruction project now lasts for 3 years. Thanks to support of various fonds such as Renovabis, Kirche in Not, The Papal foundation, Archdiocese of Koln, United States conference of Catholic Bishops, Kazicku seimos fondas and various Lithuanian companies there is interior finishes in the second and third floor.
Now it’s the last and the hardest part of reconstruction. In order for sisters to fully welcome groups the interior finishes should be done in the first floor and also all the installation of dining room and other spaces such as cloakroom, reception area.
The totally sum of the project was 600 000 euros. Sisters managed to collect 538 000 euros and the convent can partly function. Some of the activities already take place. But in order to finish the reconstruction and to fully open the convent sisters are still in need of 62 000 euros.
We are so close to the finish line! Let's make it happen :)
Here every little bit helps. Thank you for your support!
If you want to see and know more about sisters, you can find us in facebook - Dievo Apvaizdos seserys