The NDS Community in Cracow
The community of Cracow was founded in 2004. November 10th was the official date of the beginning of the community of “Our Lady of Sion” – „Notre Dame de Sion” in Cracow, given in the letter of welcome by Cracow’s Cardinal Franciszek Macharski. Sr. Ania (from Poland) and Sr. Anne Denise (from France) started together the new community in Cracow. They started to work with Christian people to show them the Jewish roots of Christianity in different ways. They prepared spiritual retreats in the Center of Dialogue and Prayer in Oswiecim as well as in different parishes in Poland. Also in the community house there are regular meetings. Sr. Ania taught religion for 7 years in different high schools of Cracow. One of these schools was for a protestant community. It was an occasion to start with young people.
This community is also a place of formation for our Congregation. For some years it was a Novitiate house for the European Region. Now the community is very happy to welcome two of the young sisters for an experience in their community, Alejandra and me Victoria. We participate in the work which the community proposes to us. “The day of the desert”- is one day each week of spiritual resources. It is a day consecrated to prayer and reading the Bible with commentaries. Everybody is invited to participate. Sr. Ania makes the biblical reflection twice a month for groups, with the elements of the Christian and Jews tradition. “The Biblical groups are in our community. These meetings always end with a time of prayer in our chapel dedicated to “Our Lady of Sion”.
The Communities Mission
Sr. Ania walks every year to Czestochowa with a pilgrimage organized by the Dominicans, our parish in Krakow. It is a 7 days pilgrimage on foot. Each day Sr. Ania gives a biblical commentary about the daily reading to the group. There can be 2.000 people in the group or even more. This year Alejandra and I Victoria went with her on the pilgrimage. It was a great opportunity for us to walk 200km in one week with 2.000 people. We went with our intentions and all the people who were in that pilgrimage went because of their faith. For me it was an amazing experience because I never saw so many people do that kind of a pilgrimage. Sr. Ania also walked with us a part of the „Camino“ on Poland, the pilgrimage path to Santiago di Compostela. We went with some of her friends, who invited us to go with them. Sr. Ania also gave us every day a commentary from the bible. This was our spiritual food.
Sr. Ania is also involved in helping the young people who want to be volunteers in Jerusalem and in Egypt finding this posibility through the website of NDS Poland www.sion.pl. Each year there is a meeting for volunteers who have been abroad which gives them a chance to share their experiences. We had a chance to meet many of the volunteers who were in Egypt and in Jerusalem and it was great to see some of them again.
Sr. Anne-Denise welcomes people to teach them the French language and has conversations with her students. She also goes to visit handicapped women in our district of Cichy Kacik. She is part of the finance team in the European region. The community is also a member of the Polish organizations whose focus is dialogue between the Christians and the Jews. In Cracow it is “Alliance Club” (pol. Przymierze) and in Warsaw the “Polish Council of the Christians and Jews” (PRCHIZ).
Our experience in Cracow / Poland
Alejandra and I have done a lot of things since we came here. We attended a workshop in Oswiecim to know more about the Concentration Camp Auschwitz. It was an international session and we met many young people. It is good that there are some young people who care about the past. We also gave lessons in our own language, Alejandra in Spanish and I for Arabic in our community house in Krakow. We are also taking part in the community’s welcome of people, sharing experience with the community and helping each other to grow and to look at God. We go often on Sunday to the Dominican Church, but from time to time we also go to the English mass.
We are volunteers in Galicia Museum in Cracow, trying to make easy programs for children from 7 to 9 years old, to make the history more easy and exciting for them. Also we prepared some papers for the teachers who come from Jerusalem to meet teachers from Poland to participate in the course about how they can teach Holocaust to the children in their school. We help to organize the papers for them. And we are preparing seeds for all schools in Poland as well as the Ukraine.
My personal reflection
I am very happy to have had this experience here in Europe. For me it is the first time being in an European country. It has been a great opportunity for me to be here in that community of “Notre Dame de Sion” in Cracow. I liked it very much because I saw the kindness of the sisters and their warm welcome, openness and faithfulness to God. I like the people because they are always ready to help when asked, for example: When I don’t know the direction of the place where I want to go to, and when I ask for help they come out from their houses, office and show me the way.
The entire country has enough places for exercise and green gardens, mountains, forests with clean air, beautiful houses, especially the ones made from wood. Cracow is a well organized city.
For me I don’t know how to really express my feeling since I came here to community. The sisters welcomed us with much joy and smiles on their faces. They are very happy to be with us for five months. We have lived many activities inside the community and outside of the community. I found in that community God in our midst. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” Mt 18:20. We can live together because God is in our midst. I received a lot of love and care.
Something I loved in the community was the way we always light a candle during the meal. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” John 8:12. That is how I understand why we light the candle. It is to remember that God is our light and we have to be light for others. It has been a great experience and I learned a lot of new things and I discovered many abilities in myself. I thank God for all the different experiences that I have lived in Cracow. Thanks to the Congregation of “Notre Dame de Sion” for the community here, and for everyone whom I met and who helped me on my way.
Novice of Notre Dame de Sion