Pope Francis assures us: ‘A renewal of preaching can offer believers new joy in the faith and fruitfulness in the work of evangelisation.’

This fruitfulness is something to which the Dominican Sisters in Liepaja, Latvia can also attest. Here, as in the country generally, only 15% of the population are Catholics, and yet the courses in the Faith and on Church history run by the Sisters on a near weekly basis are constantly oversubscribed.

They also offer practical counsel, in something the world does not understand, namely fasting. They explain the meaning of renunciation and sacrifice. There are 190 women participants, many of them elderly ladies, grandmothers, who personally experienced the communist era and know what it means to be free to find out about their faith and also live it openly.

They were the ones who kept the Gospel message in their hearts and lived by it. Now they are refreshing their own knowledge of the faith so that they can pass it on to their children and grandchildren – and at the same time explain to them what it was like to risk prison, labour camps and even one’s life simply for attending Holy Mass. For the children and grandchildren of today for the most part only know from books or from hearsay about this time of persecution and dictatorship under communism.

The testimony of these grandmothers is awakening the longing for meaning and the inner life in many people. It is not simply a matter of recalling the past, rather it is about the future, especially of the younger generation. However, fulfilling this spiritual longing once more is beyond the human capacities of the local churches in the Baltic nations.

Often it does not take much, but for a small convent like that of the Dominican Sisters in Liepaja even the cost of the teaching materials and the organisation of the courses is beyond their slender means. ACN is helping the Sisters revive this new joy in the Faith.

This article can be found in Mirror 0417.