Pope Francis‘ visit to Slovakia

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Pope Francis‘ visit to Slovakia lasted from 12th to 15th September 2021. He began his visit in Bratislava. Some Sisters of the Congregatio Jesu took part in this meeting with bishops, priests, religious and catechists in St Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava, where Sister Agnesa Jenčíková, Provincial Superior of the Slovak Province, presented the Holy Father with a gift on behalf of all the religious.  

He then travelled on to Prešov in eastern Slovakia.  In addition to the official programme, Pope Francis also visited St Ignatius Retreat House. First he went to greet the staff in the kitchen. Some of the CJ Sisters: Anežka, Fides, Joachima and Kinga were present that day helping in the kitchen. Pope Francis shook hands with all of them. When he came to Sister Kinga, he asked her which order she belonged to. She replied, “Congregatio Jesu.” And Pope Francis said, “Mary Ward.” Then he pulled out of his Book of Hours an old postcard from 1987 that Sister Mary Antonia CJ of the former Argentine Province had written to him, and he showed her the postcard.  At the end, the Holy Father gave everyone his blessing. The staff at the retreat house experienced a wonderful and unexpected joy that day, as did the community of Jesuits there.

In Košice, in Lunik IX , which is a Roma settlement, Pope Francis met other CJ Sisters who work with  the Roma in various other places in Slovakia:  Sisters Silvia, Rachel and Antonia in Jarovnice, Sister Villana in Stará Ľubovňa and Sister Serafia in Zborov. At the end of his visit to them, the Pope said. “The Church is a house, it is your house. Therefore – I want to tell you from my heart – be welcome, always feel at home in the Church and do not be afraid to live in it. No one is keeping you or anyone else away from the Church!”

For the Slovaks, the Pope’s visit was a very special gift. Through his words they felt strengthened and encouraged in their faith in Jesus Christ. 

Carla Bellone