We must be doing something right here at Minsteracres because another of this year’s summer volunteers is returning for a second time.

Arek Galka and his colleague Tomek Nalecz, both training to become priests, are on loan to Minsteracres from their Passionist monastery in Poland. Arek, now four years into his seven years training, first came in 2014 and was surprised and delighted to be asked again.

“Fr Jeroen was in Warsaw for a meeting in April this year and asked our superior if he could send two students to help. I was really glad to be asked. Tomek wasn’t sure to begin with, but I told him not to worry. I said Minsteracres would be a nice holiday – with tasks!”

Now, coming to the end of their four-week stay, Tomek agrees. Speaking through his interpreter Arek he says, “It’s the first time in England for me. It’s an amazing place – very good people and very good food!

“It’s a beautiful place where I find peace in my heart,” says Tomek. “I have met many wonderful people who I think of as my friends, and not just from England. One Sunday we counted seven different nationalities.

“The community and everyone here is really kind. They don’t mind that my English isn’t good. I have learned that it is important for me to learn English to be able to communicate with all these other people.”

Arek remembers his first time at Minsteracres. “When I first came I wasn’t sure in my heart that I wanted to become a priest. I came mostly for the travelling! Three years later I understand better that God gave me this opportunity to come back and I see this community differently. Now I see them as my brothers and sister in the Passionist Congregation.”

Tomek is a little older that Arek was when he began his training. “I already felt that the Passionist congregation was where I wanted to be. Minsteracres hasn’t changed that, it just makes my vocation deeper.”

While here, the two men have had the chance to visit Holy Island, Durham, Hexham, Newcastle and Keswick in the Lake District. They have also spent a lot of time in the walled garden, which they both enjoy.

Asked about the highlight of their stay they agree that it is the people they have met and the friendships they have made.

“All the community eat together, talk and laugh,” says Arek. “There is something beautiful here. There is a happiness and kindness where we can just relax without stress.

“We will be leaving on Tuesday, and when we go we will both be saying ’See you next time Minsteracres’!”