St. Joseph, The Worker (Home for the Elderly near Medjugorje, Herzegovina)
On a recent trip to Medugorje, I was lucky enough to go with a small group of Irish people to visit and attend Mass at the Home of St Joseph for the Elderly, a fifteen minute drive away. This is a residential home for fifty-one residents and has waiting list.
Sr Muriel, a Sister of the Cenacle from Boston (MA, USA), has been working in Bosnia/Herzegovina since l992 and first came to the country during the war to help refugees. Mary Walsh arrived in 1999 to work with her, and together they started the Home project in September 2002 and it was completed in June 2004.
They also have a Food Delivery Program which brings dry food once a month to the elderly living in the villages, mountains and sometimes horrendous living conditions, without running water and heating.
Both women, although very different, are very spiritual and instantly inspiring. Together, they make up an awesome double act, because their Faith in Jesus and his Mother Mary, have truly moved mountains.
Sr Muriel is a very composed and prayerful person. Mary Walsh has a business background and loves to negotiate. Together, with the help of God, they are able to accomplish their mission.
They get absolutely no funding or financial support from the local Catholic Church, they have built the Home for the Elderly and the ongoing Food Delivery Program through charitable donations from people.
Listening to Sr Muriel speak, I could hear that the central theme of this Home for the elderly, is one of respect and dignity for its residents, where the love of Jesus Christ hangs in the air like a mist. A special air of hope hit me as we drove through the gates of the St Joseph Home for the Elderly, the direct opposite to the depressing vibe that lingers everywhere on our drive through the Bosnian countryside.
The residents welcomed us with smiles and handshakes as our group visited them in the large sunny room at the back, where the hills and fields were in full view. No words were needed as the residents welcomed us with hearty handshakes and big, often toothless smiles, but the pain was clearly evident in some of their eyes, as quite a number of these women are alone in the world, all their families have been killed in the wars of recent years.
They are now in the final phase of building a hospice, which we saw on the grounds from the sunny day room.
Being Irish we did sing our version of ‘Danny Boy’ and we were joined by two of the older women who danced a jig and generally brought a smile to the onlookers, many of whom are wheelchair bound.
Leaving the home, I felt a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye, enriched after witnessing such compassion and empathy given by these two selfless women but happier knowing in our busy materialistic world, such people still exist.
(Check out their website for full details of how to donate money, however small to help them in their daily work - www.saintjosephtheworker.org.
If you are in Medugorje, give them a ring and arrange to visit them, where you will be welcomed with open arms, but maybe asked like us to sing a song for the residents!)
ST. JOSEPH, THE WORKER LTD.