On 8 September, Ria Walk said farewell to the Marist Brothers of Westerhelling/Nijmegen.
She had worked for 31 years, serving the Brothers, visitors and groups who passed through Westerhelling. In recent months, poor health had been the cause of lengthy absences and she really missed not being able to look after the brothers as usual.
At first, she was employed to do housework in the Brothers’ community. At the end of the 1980s, the number of meetings for religious training and reflection increased in Westerhelling, giving extra work to Ria and her colleague because they had to “do the rooms” and cook for about fifteen people. Ria was a good cook who loved cooking and her meals were greatly appreciated by her “passing trade” and by the Brothers, of course!!!
During the nineties, some refugees added their number to the community and from then on it was necessary to take care of 12 people and to plan appropriate meals.
From 2000, Westerhelling was the location of the Provincial House of the new province of West Central Europe. Ria adapted to these new circumstances and was always ready to serve the Brothers or those who came from Germany, Belgium or Great Britain. She had no trouble making herself understood by visitors from such different countries. Everyone understood her “sign language”.
To mark a Jubilee of the Brothers, Ria presented the community with a really beautiful tapestry of the Virgin Mary which she had made herself. Today, the tapestry can be found in the dining-room of the house. The tapestry must have required hundreds of hours of work and this is yet further evidence of her strong involvement in the life of the community.
For her generous dedication, her good humour and her honest laughter, Ria received the papal honour “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice”. It is a well-earned reward for a long career in the service of a religious community. Her endeavour constituted a precious and important contribution to the apostolic work of the Brothers.
Ria can look back on all these wonderful years with pride and gratitude.
The festivities came to a close with a celebration meal which brought together members of her family, acquaintances, Brothers and colleagues.