Retrospective by Capitanio Sisters as they say goodbye to the UK after more than 60 years of service

We are Capitanio Sisters, internationally known as The Sisters of Charity of Saints Bartolomea Capitanio and Vincenza Gerosa. Captivated by the exceedingly great love of Jesus the Redeemer for humanity, Bartolomea founded the Institute at Lovere, Italy in 1832 to manifest His Merciful Love through the Service of Charity. Eight months after the Foundation Bartolomea died and Vincenza her first companion built it up. The Institute soon flourished and its features became widely international. We are also known as Sisters of Maria Bambina as the Congregation had received an image of the Infant Mary as a gift and devotion to the Mystery of the Nativity of Mary had spread through it.

Our sisters came to Ealing, London in 1959 and in December 1960 the ‘Nile Lodge’ Community was officially erected to provide linguistic formation, especially English Education to those sisters who were chosen to serve as missionaries in different countries. Subsequently, to maintain themselves and to be able to host the young girls/women who hailed from the neighbouring countries to frequent study of English language or to proceed with the work opportunity, the sisters set up a hostel.

Later, in 1970, the community catered to the needs of the families of the neighbourhood by opening a Playgroup for the children aged 2 to 4 years. The Playgroup did provide the sisters many opportunities to be in touch with the people of the parish and the locality. While carrying out these services, collaboration in the Parish ministries was always given prime importance: the sisters were engaged in the teaching of Catechism, served as Readers and Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion; maintaining the cleanliness and decorum of the altar linen, accompanying the faith journey of a small group of couples in the ‘Teams of Our Lady’, praying for teenagers through ‘Pray for Teens’ group, helping at the ‘Soup Kitchen’ along with other volunteers, making regular visits with Holy communion to the Catholics of one of the neighbouring Care Homes and participating in their monthly celebration of the Holy Eucharist etc. Through all these activities we have made rich and diverse experiences and have been blessed immensely on our journey of faith.

Living in this world that is going through rapid transformation, our Congregation felt challenged, to discern God’s design for us today and respond to the greatest and most urgent needs of the people in the face of diminishing of vocations and ageing of sisters. Therefore, a process of Re-planning is undertaken by the Congregation in fidelity to the Charism of Charity that attracted our Foundress, which is touching various structures of our religious set up. This process touched Nile Lodge as well and due to many valid reasons after 63 years of its existence, on 1st December 2022 the community of sisters bid goodbye not only to Ealing, London, but to the United Kingdom as this was the sole presence in the country. The 6 members of the community are now placed in six different locations of the Institute as per the apostolic needs.

We were privileged to be in the ecclesiastical region of Westminster Diocese and be part of the St. Benedict Ealing Abbey Parish in the past years. We have been enriched through manifold encounters and we do feel indebted to the Benedictine Monastic community that has supported us all through the years, nourished our Spiritual and Sacramental life. We remember all the persons with whom we were connected over the years and we know that many are saddened at the news and the reality of our moving out. Their tear-filled goodbyes and words deep appreciation mingled with helpless sadness have moved our hearts.

As we look back, gratitude wells up in our hearts for being graced with God’s bounty that enabled us to fulfil the entrusted mission at Ealing … reaching out to so many of our sisters, brothers and children through our apostolic service and life witness. We express our grateful thanks to everyone for being there for us at every step of our life and service. While we cherish that sincere and strong bond of connection between us, we pray for God’s blessings on all of you. Please continue to sustain us by your prayerful support as we venture into new realities of our apostolic activities.

Goodbye…. God bless!

Capitanio  Sisters

(Nile Lodge)

 Thank you to Sr Thresia Poulouse for taking the time to write this article.