The experience of community life in Alliance in San Sebastián... 


On April 23rd today, it has been 2 years since we started to live together as an Alliance Community. 

Since the beginning - since we were invited to live this experience - it was clear to us: that we were sent as a community present in the Gizaïde Foundation Project, founded in 1997 by the Servants of Mary of Anglet, Caritas Diocese of San Sebastian and the Salesian Congregation with the aim of assisting and accompanying in their life project people suffering from Mental Illness and/or a high risk of social marginalization as well as special difficulties in their recovery and social insertion.

We wanted to be a community that seeks the Lord and where we help each other to live centered on Jesus Christ, joyful in our identity as consecrated women as Servants of Mary of Anglet and Sisters of Compassion on the way to the Alliance.

We were aware that fraternal life required time to get to know each other, accepting our differences as a gift from God and to live the complimentarily that the Alliance mission asks of us.

We accepted it as an opportunity to live the dream of "another possible Religious Life".

From the beginning we started from the fact that we had to "be born again" (Jn.3, 2-8) which we consider as the founding text of our community, as well as Rom.12, 2 "be transformed with a new mind to discern the will of God". And also from the song: "A new journey begins, with the enthusiasm of one who begins a dream...".

We continue on this path, realizing that we are different in our way of being and that we come from having lived through very different processes... which is why it is not always easy for us to live together...

Our mission includes the presence of the community and accompaniment as volunteers to:

  • the Shelter Home with 13 mentally ill women with little or no family and social support. With intense supervision by educators every day of the year, following an individualized plan and with whom we live under the same roof.  
  • The Day Care Centre is made up of 22 people who come every day from 10am to 4.30pm. They are people affected by mental disorders who have difficulties in their autonomous psychosocial functioning, and 3 women who live in a flat in the Old Part of the city. It is a flat with low physical supervision as it is attended by women who have already undergone a personal process and who have a certain degree of autonomy in making decisions and taking responsibility for their own life journey.

Before we started living together, some of us already participated in Caritas projects in the city (Aterpe, Eutxi...) and we were also offered the possibility of participating in Laguntza (a soup kitchen for immigrants who during the day stay on the street or take a training course and then sleep in our own Hotzaldi building and with whom we are only separated by the door of a corridor). With the pandemic all this has not been possible because here in Donostia we cannot volunteer for people over 65 years of age. Therefore, this year we have been exclusively dedicated to the Gizaïde Foundation's project with people with mental illnesses.

Before living together and in the beginning, we were accompanied by Graciela and Carmen who were a great help. Now it is Carmen Chávez who continues to accompany us in a simple, close and affectionate way, but at the same time demanding and allowing us to be ourselves. She is present (from time to time) both with her physical presence and by other means of communication.

After some time of living together, we have been able to formulate our Apostolic Community Project, which sets out who we are and what we want to live; the Word that enlightens us and in what we concretize our mission, as well as the means we give ourselves to live all this.

Like any group, we have our tasks distributed by weekly shifts, both the housework, prayer prepared by each one... as well as staying in the house (we always have to be at home in case unforeseen events arise and we are needed...).

We are aware and it fills us with joy to know that we are giving witness as a community, with no protagonist on the outside of the Project. We have been told on several occasions: "You have no idea what it means to have you here with us", and this by the staff of Gizaïde, the Caritas staff and the beneficiaries themselves, who are very fond of us and we are very fond of them. This encourages us because we are aware that the mission and the testimony must always be a community one and we see that this is how they perceive us.

We find ourselves excited and grateful to our Congregations for this opportunity to live in Alliance Community which encourages us to go further... to open our ears, our eyes and our hearts to new realities in our surroundings, in the area, in the country and in the world.

In "normal" times, for our Ongoing Formation, we attended Retreats and Talks organized by CONFER and other Entities in the city but in this year of Pandemic, we have received "abundant" Formation via on-line organized by the Diocese and the Loyola Centre (Jesuits) which are keeping us attentive, active and awake to other realities.

This time has passed quickly but we have also had to face unforeseen events of illness... in the community itself which we have lived with serenity, helping each other. There have also been other unforeseen events, in addition to the pandemic that is affecting all of us, but especially our sick women, and we have even experienced some contamination and one death.

Our desire is to continue walking with hope and illusion, open to what the Spirit wants from us, and we don't know where it may lead us....