The summer season is usually quite busy with retreat groups coming and going. In order to ensure that all runs smoothly, we need all help possible. Alongside our regular volunteers in recent years we have received help from volunteers from abroad who spent time at Minsteracres. This summer we enjoyed the presence of Nancy from the USA, Clara and Gretha from Germany and Arek, a Passionist student from Poland.

For Arek it was the fourth time he had stayed here. “How great to come back here,” Arek comments, “I remember when I received an invitation from Fr Jeroen. It was at night. I read an email from him and I was happy to spend some time in England. The next day my superior gave me permission to go and this made me even happier. And when I came to Minsteracres in June, someone from the community greeted me saying “Welcome home!” It was a great feeling. I think it’s true.”

Arek is especially attracted by the international character of the Minsteracres community. “As a religion, we are one big family all over the world,” he explains. “In my opinion, the community dining room in Minsteracres is a special place. Living in an international community is an interesting experience. I could live every day in this setting. Several times I counted how many different nationalities were with us during dinner. Several times it turned out that I was at the table with people from other continents with seven or eight nationalities! For a boy from a small village in the east of Poland it was a great experience!”

Apart from enjoying a bit of holiday and doing some studies, Arek helped out in the dining room and the gardens. He enjoyed himself so much that he decided to stay a few weeks longer. “I liked being here so much that it was sad for me to go back to Poland on 1 August. Fortunately, a few days before I was supposed to go, I found a cheap flight for Warsaw for the second half of the month and was allowed to stay. It meant that I would spend my 25th birthday in England! So, a year older, I returned to Poland on 21 August. I was happy to realize one of my favorite sentences of the Gospel: “However, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day.” (Luke 13: 33)

We wish Arek well with his studies and look forward to seeing him again next year.