Flor – Katarinahjemmet for me!

What does Katarinahjemmet mean to you, we ask. And Flor is happy to answer. 

Flor is one of many volunteers who make it possible for the sisters to reach out so widely.

«Katarinahjemmet for me» is a new series on our website. The series will be published beyond the spring of 2023. We have received most of the answers in writing, others are interviewed face to face. Flor has written the answers herself.

Family come first

My name is Flor. I am a forty plus, Venezuelan, married with a Norwegian man, living in Oslo since 2012. Younger of five siblings but grew up as a foster child, from which I have two more older sisters, and through my father side, many other siblings. So, I am big family girl.

I am also a journalist, and so far, the best story I could ever talk about, it’s my own, this through the optic of a Catholic, because my story is one of conversion and faith from A to Z and I am sure it will continue so until the day my Lord calls me in.

As I said, I am married with a Norwegian man. We met in 2008 in my country, a place convulsion by crime and political confrontation.

Flor met her future husband in 2008. A few years later, the couple settled in Norway. Photo: private

I worked for many years reporting about death and the darkest sides of the human heart, and while I was a television correspondent for a prominent foreign media, I had it all what a journalist my age could wish for. Money, impact, popularity, access to all the stories, I grew in cynicism and loneliness.

No time for family and friends. I was never present; I had a job 24/7. And when I wasn’t working, I was intoxicated by constant parties and ephemeral connections.

I never thought about vocation, God as the centre of my life, or marriage at all. But when I met this man, I felt as if something stroke me in the heart. I looked up at “the sky” and said: I understand.

After a while, I resigned to my boss, which at the time was the vice president of the network, with these words:
– “Your media will not take care of me when I am sick, on the contrary, when I make a mistake, you will kick me out”. And he responded:
– “Pity, because I had great plans for you. Your own show, interviews, for example. But I understand, and you are choosing right Flor. Congratulations, family come first”.

And soon after I started my journey as a wife. We married in China, and we lived in Southeast Asia for about 4 years. There I learned about the southeast Asian culture and got involved in volunteering activities and learnt to pray the Rosary before I came to Norway.

A nun in the street

Norway, where the real calvary started. And no, it is not a negative statement because as I said in previous lines, my journey has been through the eyes of the faith and in that regard, without Calvary, there is no salvation or Resurrection.

I met the sisters at Sta. Katarinahjemmet in 2013. I am not so sure when in the year, but I was going through depression. Perhaps the lack of light, the frustration because of the language, the encounter with a so different culture, not many friends and many other natural reasons a person can feel out of place in a new environment.

Then I saw a nun in the street, a nun with a back winter cape. A nun today I recognize as Katarina. I hurried my steps and stop her:
– Excuse me sister, do you speak English?
And she said “Yes”.
I presented myself and explained with tears in my eyes:
-I am very depressed, if I can’t find something to do, I will become crazy. I can do whatever.  At the same time, I asked if there was a place for me to volunteer in the convent.

The sisters are relatively common to see on the streets of Oslo, but without the black cloak. Photo: Katarinahjemmet

I must say, I am a person with specific personality, so I am not very adaptable. That is where the frustrations come in the first place, and even if I had a circle of acquainted, my search was about something deeper, something that nowadays looks like I was in search for the true God.

I got an interview with the sisters next Monday and I got the fortune to teach Spanish to one of the girls living in the student home at Katarinahjemmet. What a joy! After that I have been visiting the sisters in regular basis.

I have learnt from the young and the old

I live in Oslo, but I started a tradition few years ago to retreat in Katarinahjemmet once a year. A couple of days to pray and to be in quietude and silence. To sleep in a place where Our Lord lives too.

The chapel there is a place where I have found solace and company through the years, consolation, when my beloved so far away has died, while the tragedies had hit.

In Katarinahjemmet I also found my call as a lay person. St. Katarinahjemmet is both a physical place with real people and a spiritual place in the heart of Oslo.

I have witnessed hard work, friendship, sense of community, solidarity, pardon, resources to the disposition of others and faith, all above. I have seen crisis management and innovation.

Bravery, pious prayer, and example. It has been my most prominent campus, like a school for life. No University for me has been like this, where the teachers are women of great will. Including the students and volunteers. Because I have learnt from the young and old there.

The sisters look after us

In my personal experience, during the process of integration in Norway St. Katarinahjemmet and the sisters has been key, and I see how they have been also key through the decades for both foreign and locals.

They seem to me to all act in the name of Love. With prudence and hard work, acceptance and guidance and practical tools to give us an insurance that everything will be fine. I got experience in Norwegian society and an attest for work, as well as the openness for reference about my persona. That is the key, the sisters look after us, persons. Keeping the dignity of the people of all races and even religions.

Flor has been a volunteer at Katarinahjemmet since 2013. She has helped with homework, at the reception and in the kitchen, she has also participated in different arrangments. Here she is with Sr. Anne Bente during the cultural day in St. Olav parish in 2017, where the sisters were present. Photo KatarinahjemmetHonestly, been so close to the sisters all these years, has been witnessing how much they care for everyone. To the point sometimes I want to say: Please, you are only human… But I guess their faith, call and sense of duty and Truth it’s something to aim for. They are religious after all. I am not.

Prayer! They pray. They help us in the way of conversion, on the titanic of a daily way of conversion and they offer everything they can for the Church. When in the pandemic, they opened their garden without fear, and that I will be thankful for ever. It was a source of inspiration. Of true Christian Inspiration. Through the years, all the sisters I have met there have given their efforts and knowledge, even beyond health issues and all. I feel blessed!

During the pandemic, the sisters invited to mass in the garden. Thanks to the goodwill of many priests, it was possible to achieve. Here is Fr. Oddvar Moi on a Sunday during the pandemic. Photo: private
Would you like to add something?

I will be very ever thankful to the sisters because of their support to a project called Suppe og Vennskap, which is part of the Charity department in St. Olav parish in Oslo, because they invite the volunteers, they receive from abroad to cooperate and I must say, these girls make a great difference for us in the team. It has been about four years of support. I can’t thank enough on behalf of the project.

Suppe og vennskap started the 21st of December of 2016. The group first makes soup and prays together, before they take a fixed route to deliver the food and the drinks. The purpose is to hand out a bit of nourishment to those who are in need. Flor is a driving force in this group, where our young interns (volunteers) have parts of their church practice. Photo: private

One more thing! I just want to thank the community of sisters, for opening their door to me, with all that I am. My tears, and my joy. Like Christ Himself. Like the painting in their chapel over the altar. Glittering in the hour of sorrow.

Vil du støtte søstrenes virke i Norge? Bli giver!