A spark of love for Armenia

The Little Sisters have been present in Armenia since 1991, having come shortly after the serious earthquake with its huge number of victims. 
 

Hospitals were built and opened at that time and lsr Noëlle Dominique arrived at the very beginning of the opening of the hospital offered by the Vatican and run by the Camilian Fathers in the very north of Armenia.  Various little sisters came over the years but in the last few years Noelle Dominique was alone.

After her death, 2 little sisters went to close the house and greet friends.  Here is an echo of their stay.

“We arrived on the evening of October 7th and stayed about ten days.  Fr. Mario, the Italian Camilian priest in charge of the hospital where lsr Noëlle Dominique worked, was waiting for us, along with Hasmig, his secretary.  Father Mario was visibly very moved and told us that he "came as if for a funeral and didn't even bring flowers...

We spent most of our stay right at the hospital and were very moved to feel how present Noëlle Dominique still is for them.  A large picture of her hangs in the entrance hall, opposite a picture of the Bishop!  At the entrance, Father Mario had a cross carved in stone and erected for the fortieth day after her death.  "Thank you Sister Noëlle - 2019" is engraved on it at the bottom.  The Apostolic Nuncio had been able to bless the cross.

 

Towards the end of our stay, Mass was held on a Friday as usual.  Father Mario wanted it to be celebrated for lsr Noëlle Dominique.  Young girls from the neighboring villages were supposed to come sing but a bus breakdown delayed them.  That gave us plenty of time to speak together about Noëlle Dominique while waiting.  Here is what they said:

  • She was the life among us.  We miss her very much and every day remember something with her.

    She would get angry but she loved us.

    She was like my mother, like a relative or dear one, a friend...

    She gave me advice for my personal life, my family life, and she taught me the job.”

Once we had made some progress sorting through her things, we started looking for our friends.  Ashkhen, a former little sister, came one day to help us.  We got together with her again later in Gumri and spent a lovely day with her family.  Another day we got acquainted with the families of Karo and Shoushan, good friends of ours in Toulouse.  On the way back, we passed some young people in the latest sportswear, practicing skating.  As there is nothing in Ashotzk in the way of activities, entertainment, etc., Father Mario and Noëlle Dominique had helped set up the 'San Camilio' group for young people who do cross-country skiing (the altitude here is 2040 m - 6693 feet!!).  These youngsters are now the champions of Armenia, which has taken them to various European countries.  Father Mario takes care of buying the equipment and getting sponsors to cover the costs of the trips.  These young people we saw were training on a newly asphalted road for the next competition!

 

In Yerevan we were delighted once again to meet with Bishop Nichan, bishop emeritus, and a great friend of the Little Sisters.  He was very moved (and so was I).  He is so sad that we are no longer in Armenia.

Lsr Sonja Marija reiterated how poor Armenia is.  The people are so poor, but she was very touched by their welcome.  They wear their hearts on their sleeves, ready to give everything they have!  Noëlle Dominique's presence is still very much alive in the hospital and we give thanks for the life and faith of this woman who knew how to persevere and remain in difficult conditions out of love for the Armenian people.  May we one day return to this country...

 

 

 

                                                      

 

 

                                                                                                                                   Petite sœur Chantal-Françoise
                                                                                        

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