This article by Esther Tesch appeared in the September 2021 issue of En Avant (Forward), the journal of the Salvation Army in Brussels, about the work of Sr Lorenza, fcJ, member of the Brussels community. It is reproduced here with permission
To be a volunteer is to dedicate time to one’s neighbour
Lorenza is Italian. Today, she is 78 years of age, and 57 years ago she was called to commit herself, as a religious sister in the congregation of the Faithful Companions of Jesus. Then as a young adult she did not yet realise what this dedication would mean, Christ was not yet truly at the centre of her life.
Little by little, God showed her his presence in many aspects of her life. She loved working with children and was able to combine this passion with her religious vocation. Speaking four languages fluently, she was sent on mission to numerous countries and notably to Bolivia where she continued to work with children.
In 2006, Lorenza was named as the bursar of the Continental Province, in Belgium. Since she had some available time she joined a group of religious who go round schools offering informative courses on prostitution, on the risks linked to the trafficking of human beings and the slavery of children.
As a result of the pandemic, Lorenza unfortunately had to stop these particular activities, but she wanted to continue giving time to her neighbour. This meant that she could offer all her available time to the volunteer service at Serve the City, with the Salvation Army. She prepares meals there and participates in their distribution. At the beginning it was a simple pastime. But one day of immersion with the homeless and the migrants totally changed her way of looking at the homeless and the migrants.
She understood then that these people have come to Europe with the hope of a better life, but they realise very often that the reality is not like that at all. From then on, Lorenza no longer crosses the road when she sees a homeless person sitting on the pavement, she goes towards him to greet him. Twice a week the new volunteer is faithful at her post at the Salvation Army, to distribute meals.
“The contact with certain beneficiaries is very touching, some call me Mum or Granny, there is even a beneficiary who regularly offers me a bouquet of flowers he has picked in the fields.”
This voluntary work is for Lorenza a way of witnessing to the love of God.