An average age of 41 is something that most convents in the West can only dream of. But the Poor Clare Sisters in Brestovsko in Bosnia and Herzegovina are indeed still young. Only one of them is aged over 60, and the two youngest are just 24 and 26 respectively. The convent was founded in 1989, immediately after the collapse of communism in the country, at a time when the old Yugoslavia still existed. Four religious sisters came from Split, now part of Croatia, to establish a new convent in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina
Today there are seven sisters in the convent. They live a life of poverty and seclusion and ceaseless prayer. They grow their own vegetables in the convent garden and in order to support themselves they bake hosts and sew Mass vestments for the diocese. But even then, the little they earn is not enough to cover even their own very modest needs. Above all, their healthcare is a heavy financial burden for them.
ACN has always given special priority to the support of the contemplative religious, who pray in quiet seclusion for the needs of the Church and of the whole world – even though they are widely disregarded by many people today, who see them as doing „nothing useful“ in society. But Father Werenfried van Straaten, the founder of ACN, knew better and has found beautiful imagery with which to describe their hidden ministry. He compares them with „Pure snow, high in the mountains in the sunlight of God‘s love. Snow that melts, disappears and is seemingly useless. But see! Little rivulets come rushing down, growing broader, merging together into foaming torrents, into waterfalls which drive power stations, machines, factories and entire industries, conjuring sparkling seas of light and flowing on, transforming arid plains into fertile fields and filling a grey world with trees, plants, grain, flowers, fruit and beauty, and carrying shiploads of food and everything else needed for a life of human dignity to distant shores…“ This, he adds, „is the essence of all contemplative life, of all resting quietly in the presence of God, all loving listening to the Word of God.“
Every year we provide a small sum for the support of the sisters in Brestovsko, and the 2,100 Euros we are sending this year is no exception. Rest assured that these sisters are praying for everyone who is helping them!