“From the mouths of children and of babes, you have found praise to foil your enemies….”.
I would like to share with you a little about what has become our main apostolate since October 2017; the care of the girls in the girls’ dorm “Maria Internaat”. First I will explain the history of this dorm.
Maria Internaat was founded in 1956 by the Sisters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception, a diocesan order founded by a bishop to help take care of the people of the interior of Suriname, since the missionaries encountered many difficulties in reaching this group of people.
The purpose of this boarding house was to help young girls from the interior and some of the districts to continue their studies in the city. Due to old age these sisters were forced to close the house in 2011. Two years later the house was reopened under the care of a couple to whom the sisters entrusted the dorm. In June 2017 the couple was no longer able to take care of the dorm, and the house was put under the care of the diocese. With several volunteers it was possible to help the girls finish the school year. It was around this time that the Bishop requested our Community to take over the care of this boarding house. When I arrived to the mission the first week of August 2017 we started the preparations for the new school year which would begin on October 1st. Two days before school started we had the first group of girls arriving; and that was the beginning of a new apostolate for us in the mission here in Suriname.
In November 2017 the bishop visited the dorm which was still in the house next to the convent of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception where it had been located since its founding years. He immediately started looking for a new location for the girls to live, since he was not happy with the conditions of the building. During the Christmas break we were able to move into a new location, and when the girls returned in January we were able to receive them in the new house.
This past school year we had 20 girls between 8 and 18 years old. They come from different family backgrounds and are here for different reasons. When we started in October 2017 we realized that many of them had not received their sacraments and some were not even baptized. So we sent a letter to the parents of the girls who were interested in receiving the sacraments. Most of the girls received permission to receive the sacraments and so we started with catechism classes in November. While Sr. Moshiaj was teaching class to the younger girls, I thought the older girls. There was one girl who always caught my attention in the class with her questions and comments. Her name is Chemene and she is 15. She lives with her younger sister Ilonka (12) in the dorm. It was very clear that she kept thinking about the things she heard in class and that made her also remember everything that was said, even from the “good afternoons” that we have each day. One day I went to the dorm and as is her custom she came to greet me separately after I had greeted everyone in general. She said “mother, this house will be so much better next year!” I was very confused as to what she was referring to, so I asked her why she believed that the house will change. She explained; “I counted how many of us are living in this house still with the stain of original sin. But this year most of us will be baptized and that will bring a big change in the house. We will be able to practice more easily all the things that you teach us.” It was one of the moment in my life that I will never forget, as I looked into her eyes and saw her deep faith in the grace of God that comes through the sacraments and all that it meant for her. Another time as I was talking with her she said; I am sure my mother doesn’t know the true value of the sacraments or else she would have had us baptized a long time ago.
These are just some of the things that God allows us to see of what He is doing in the souls of these little ones. As we now assume more responsibility of this apostolate, it seems like Chemene’s prophecy has come true, the house is so much different. The new girls that came this year can easily follow along because the ones that were here last year already had a full year of formation. By their example they teach the new ones all they have learned in the past year.
We thank God for allowing us to participate in His work in a very concrete way in this apostolate. We ask for your prayers for the sanctification of the girls and for the necessities of the house.
This year we have 22 girls from 6 to 17 years old. We entrust them all to your prayers and they also offer their daily rosary for all the needs of the Church.
In Christ and His Mother,
M. Boomiki foe Karmel
Missionary in Suriname