Little Sisters of Jesus in Portugal: Quinta da Fonte, Apelacao

As are the people of our neighbourhood, we too are multicultural: three little sisters from three countries of origin - Portugal, France, Spain - of different ages and life experiences. A challenge and a dream: Our own journey, which is simple and sometimes tottering, lets it be seen that it is possible to live united in our differences - putting our talents, our gifts and our "know how" to the service of our neighbours in our own little way.

At every occasion there are village celebrations which are a wonderful opportunity to get to know the different cultures. We prepare food together, dance and play music. The people of Cape Verde are famous for their “batuque” which is a very ancient music from their country. There are different Churches and religious groups in our neighbourhood but everyone joins in. Even the Mayor and members of the Prefecture and civil authorities attend the celebrations. All want to work together so that the bad name of our area is forgotten as sadly it has a bad reputation for violence.

We have already discovered that true hospitality toward the other transforms our relationships and our relationships transform reality, and that takes place in a daily fashion that is simple and commonplace such as when we offer a joyful and smiling hello to all those whom we meet in the street (without exception), when we share what we have, when we are there at the right moment and when, we observe with surprise, that seeds of motivation, hope and life are germinating, and that we ourselves are welcomed and acknowledged. According to our capacities and without us knowing it, we discover that it is possible to learn to live together, so different one from another but not distant and that in this way, we are fighting exclusion, labels and the invisibility of our neighborhood.

Being present at the right moment means to accompany our neighbour to her psychiatric consultation, welcome her desire to learn to read and to see in her eyes the light of hope... It means to practice during several weeks how to sing in the Creole from Cape Verde, Angola, Saint Thomas and Guinea for the feast of Our Savior of the World... It is to peel a big quantity of garlic the evening before the celebration, to cut cabbage and to peel manioc in a joyous, collaborative atmosphere for the preparation of "cachupa", which will be offered to everyone!... It means to stay until the end during the afternoon of cultural sharing, to rejoice and dance with all...

To be there, simply, in silence, and also when things get "heated up" in the stairway or in the street—in a certain way, to try to be artisans of relationships at all times and no matter where, without having big projects, without waiting for results, nor anything making us superior, only obedient to life which allows us to be taught by those to whom Jesus reveals Himself.

A little group of Christians meet on the Saturdays of Lent. It's the moment to pray the Way of the Cross, to listen to the Word of God for Sunday, to learn songs. There was the initiative to end the month of Mary with a beautiful procession at Our Lady of Fatirna: the youth participated, and we sang. The following day, a policeman asked the pastor: "What did you do to them that everything stayed calm? "

There were many people, singing for the first Mass celebrated in the public park and the first for this little community of "Our Lady of the Quinta da Fonte "

We feel like embers of hope stirring up fire in the hearts of our adult neighbors, who are like roots that take on life once more. Many people came from their countries of origin out of necessity—to work and struggle to help those who remain in their countries survive, and almost always everything was sacrificed for them. And now something is starting to stir, a collective desire to manifest their faith, to show that everything is not lost in the neighborhood and that there is still time to present another image.

To be there as sisters—crossing bridges and barriers—made it possible for two of our neighbors from Saint. Thomas to be welcomed into a village gymnastic group and some young Africans and Gypsies met at our place for their preparation for the Young Christian Workers camp.

To be there as sisters is to listen to the desires of the children to go to the beach during their vacation, to accompany them, to listen to the complicated life of Hu and Lubin who have no papers, nor work! It's to be amazed at the resilience and the faith of Juliano who is without work and who cannot send anything to his family.

To discover and create a "being with" of equality in fragility, of sharing in openness: our neighbours feel it well. Their friendship and their proximity are also for us GOOD NEWS.

Quinta da Fonte means life flows in abundance!