Born in Switzerland, Bibiane Cattin was sent on mission to the Congo DRC where she remained for thirty-five years. She now lives in a retirement home in Fribourg and continues to live the spirit of our congregation. Here she tells us about one of her encounters.
During my “pastoral visits” to the Home des Chênes, in Fribourg, I regularly meet Mrs. Edith (not her real name). She is 99 years old.
One day, when I entered her room, I could not hide my astonishment to see on her table a Larousse Dictionary of 2022, some books and in particular, crosswords and other puzzles…
Without introduction, she told me that she had just read a book by a Swiss exegete, Daniel Marguerat: “I have learned a lot about the Bible. Jesus experienced the same situation as many children today. He had no biological father. Certainly, the people of Nazareth knew that Joseph was not his father…”
One Thursday she greeted me and said, “I’ve been waiting for you! You know, I am not at ease. One of my two daughters has been divorced for about thirty years. Now she has found a very nice friend. She is very happy about it. I see her smile and be cheerful. To see her like this before I die, it makes me feel good. But she is no longer in good standing with the Church… ”
I had just read the book by Pope Francis: “A time to change”. He deals with this subject. He says that yes, it is a law of the Church not to remarry. During the Synod on the Family, we saw that we cannot change the law. It remains, but its application must be considered in each situation. We must move towards this ideal. And there is God’s mercy for us. And if her daughter has been alone for so many years, if she is happy with this friend, the Lord must surely be pleased.
As soon as I returned home, I copied this text from the Pope and gave it to her. She was so delighted that she phoned her son to ask him to get her the book. She told me on a later visit, “I read it and found the passage you had copied for me.”
One of her daughters has saved more than 80 books for her on a small tablet. She often talks to me about the books she has read. And one day she asked me: “And what book are you reading right now?” I had nothing at that time!
Mrs. Edith still participates in the Gospel sharing that we have once a month at the Home. She has discovered another way of praying. When we meditated on the Word of God: “Come to me…”, she shared with us “My burden to hand over to him is the loneliness I live here.”
She was a pharmacist. Her husband was a surgeon. He wrote a book on the history of Fribourg. And I said to her, “I also wrote a book.” Amazed, she asked to read it. Having read it, she now wants to have it for one of her daughters who is a psychotherapist, because she says it will surely interest her.
Recently, I found her lying in bed for the first time. In a slightly hushed voice, she said to me, “I’m a little tired, I don’t know why.” She hopes to celebrate her 100th birthday in April 2023!
Sr Bibiane Cattin