10,000 widows dry their tears
More than thirty years after the death of her husband, 81-year-old Indonesian widow Angela Maria Rena Karim now has over 10,000 members in her St Monica's Union of Catholic Widows and has become known as the "dryer of tears".
UCA News reports that Karim founded Perhimpunan Warakawuri Katolik Santa Monika (St Monica Union of Catholic Widows) 25 years ago, at her St Francis of Assisi Church in Tebet, South Jakarta.
Its Jakarta archdiocese branch now has 40 parish-based units. It also has branches in over a dozen other dioceses.
Saint Monica, mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo, is regarded as a patron saint of widows. The union named after her offers spiritual and material support for its widowed members.
Karim, a mother of three whose husband died in 1975, told UCA News she responded to the needs of many widows, who faced challenges such as having to bring up children on their own while dealing with loneliness and gossip.
"Many other widows came to meet me to share their joys and sorrows, their sighs and complaints," she told UCA News.
"Hearing them, I had the idea at the beginning of 1982 to establish a union for widows. I thought it was a good way to repay the great love I received from God.
"At the end of 1981, I attended a 10-day retreat on spiritual healing with other laypeople, Religious and clergy. It encouraged me to pursue my idea to make a difference for widows who suffer loneliness, by helping them face their challenges and temptations with faith, hope and love of God.
"Then I surrendered the idea to God by praying for 100 days, with the support of some parishioners, including married men and women, a priest and a nun.
"After that, we had a meeting of nine widows in May 1982 at my house. We decided to set up the union with Saint Monica as patron on 21 June 1982.
"I am most impressed that PWK Santa Monika has really become a shelter for our big family, not only the widows but also their children and grandchildren. And that other Catholics now accept and love the widows, and the widows do not isolate themselves but open themselves to others," Maria said.
Catholic Widow Has Spent 25 Years 'Drying Tears' (UCA News, 2/7/07)
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Monica of Hippo
3 Jul 2007