Following the introductory session of the European Leadership Programme, the ELP fellows living in the Beguinage house sought to complete their first volunteer project together. The Beguinage house consists of fellows, Antonina Borrello (Italy), Henri Chabrier (France), Katinka Mossóczy (Hungary) and Nikolas Schulze-Makuch (Germany). Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the options for volunteer projects has been limited. Nevertheless, the need to serve the city of Brussels remains. Thus, the four ELP fellows had their first of many volunteering missions at the Red Cross Food Distribution, where migrants, refugees and the homeless come daily to receive food. The Red Cross food distribution is partnered with the charitable Brussels-based NGO “Serve the City.”
“I found the experience of volunteering with the migrants in Brussels very enlightening. The fact that we live inside the EU ‘bubble’ makes us sometimes unaware or unwilling to see the concrete reality around us, that many people in need have been left behind and forgotten” said Antonina Borrello.
The four fellows helped distribute masks and ensured that food was distributed in an orderly fashion. Commenting on this Henri Chabrier said, “This experience was really touching, and made me discover another face of Brussels, and to see another reality for some people in Europe.”
In the same week, the four fellows also had their first meetings with their spiritual coaches with the purpose of deepening their understanding of faith, and how to best reflect that faith in themselves and ultimately on society. The coaches for the four fellows are all priests or religious sisters who have extensive experience in pastoral care and Catholic theology. Relating to meeting her spiritual coach, Katinka Mossóczy said “Reflecting on how faith accents life is a very delicate topic for me, so I was very happy that I could exchange my hopes and dilemmas with such an experienced and open-minded person in my coach.”
As it relates to the deepening of faith and Evangelization Nikolas Schulze-Makuch said, “Like anyone I struggle with my vice but Father Guy, my spiritual coach gave me some good advice on how to live more consciously, I started doing more of what he said, and a co-worker of mine began attending the traditional mass with me and wants to join us on our next house volunteering mission.”