HELLO FROM THE NOVITIATE HOUSE – in Madrid, Spain
The past 5 months have been a whirlwind of learning a bit about the culture, growing in my Spanish language capacity, and getting used to the new routine. Now that I feel a bit more adjusted and survived the first semester of courses I´ve been asked to write a bit about what life is like here in the community.
To start, we´re a community of 6 and our home is attached to Jesus-Mary Caridad del Cobre Elementary School, one of three JM schools here in Madrid. In the community we are the following (shown here in a picture taken in Segovia):
- Arantxa Gavilán (in pink), who wears many hats including accompanying Laura Bragado (right – the other novice in her 2ndyear, who is also a medical doctor) and me (in mauve). Arantxa is also a member of the Spanish Provincial Council.
- María Jesús Olmos (left) who is the house treasurer. She also tutors students here at the elementary school and works an evening a week at Caritas assisting families in need.
- Carmen Sanz (top left) who is a teacher and pastoral coordinator at the JM high school down the street. She also mini- sters to her elderly mother, spending most nights with her. Carmen enjoys lunch with us and one weekend day.
- Christina Torrent (bottom center) who is studying for her master’s in theology and is on the JM youth/young adult committee for the province.
The elementary school where we live serves a lower income, high migrant family population.
My weekly routine includes novitiate classes here at the house led by Arantxa and accompany- ment, spirituality courses at the local Jesuit University, guitar lessons taught by one of the sisters at one of the other communities and helping with gym classes for the 5th graders and friendship groups on Friday afternoons. Friendship groups are a JM pastoral activity where about 25 high school students come here leading about 35 5th and 6th graders in various activities similar to summer camp activities in the US: arts and crafts, team building, puzzle solving, etc. This semester the two spirituality classes I am taking are, “The Spirituality of the Writers of Luke and The Experience of the Spirituality of Jesus . The classes are taught in Spanish, which has been a challenge for me, but luckily, Laura is a very gifted note taker and has helped supplement what I miss during class.
The province has a house in the foothills of the mountains outside of Madrid (about an hour drive) and we ve managed to be able to escape there about once a month for a weekend retreat and time together while enjoying the countryside. We were able to go over the New Year s holiday where I learned the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight with each dong of the New Year s Bell. On the left is a view of the setting sun on New Year’s Eve (and if you look carefully you can see me by the pillar). We ve also been joined by friends for evening prayer once a month at the house and a retreat with a group of about 10 in the mountains. Laura and I were also able to go to Sevilla for an inter-novitiate course in November. I ve also enjoyed exploring the city and various parks, and biking (here Christina and I are exploring one of the bike trails near the house), running, and walking with the community.
In the middle of February, I ll be starting the 30-day retreat accompanied by Arantxa in Loyola, Spain where the province has a retreat house. I ll be counting on all your prayers.
– Brittany Galvin