"I immediately understood that St. Joseph had answered my request by finding me the divine Spouse."
Elżbieta Waligóra has been working in a soup kitchen for the homeless for five years. She sees every day how kindness, love, and concern are as important as the soup she makes. Showing them with her heart that they are important in the eyes of God is her vocation, even if it’s not the one she imagined at first, as she shared with Aleteia…
You faithfully prayed the novena to St. Joseph for three years, but Prince Charming never came!
Elżbieta Waligóra: I prayed to St. Joseph for a good spouse. My friends who asked for good husbands as I did got the answer they wanted. Today, they’re all married. It was my sister Joanna who gave me the idea to say this novena. She kept telling me that St. Joseph is an effective intercessor in this area. But despite my prayers, no one appeared on the horizon. No prince came. Not in a car, nor much less on horseback. I was even getting a little impatient, because I couldn’t imagine myself as anything but a wife and mother.
Yet, you were heard… but in a rather surprising way!
While I was praying so fervently to meet my future husband, I went on a spiritual retreat for a few days with the Elizabethan Sisters, located on St. Joseph Street in Wrocław (western-southern Poland). After three days, by the time I left the convent to go home, I already knew that I would return. Indeed, St. Joseph had plans for my life. And through all that waiting and praying, he was preparing me to become a sister. Until one day I heard an inner voice telling me, “You’re going to heal people’s hearts.”
What feelings did you have then?
During that retreat at the convent, I experienced moments when this question arose: What does having a family and children really mean to me? Today, I’ve found unexpected answers that fill me with joy. Of course, I am a woman, and I have feelings and emotions like all women. Of course, there are difficult moments as well as happy ones. But I know what led me to become a religious and what continues to lead me. It’s God’s plan, not mine.
Have you sometimes rebelled against this plan of God?
No. Because I immediately understood that St. Joseph had answered my request by finding me the divine Spouse. I accepted, and I reached out to Him! We know that Joseph was a warm, hard-working, just, and responsible man. He knew how to deal with difficult times while keeping God first in his life. It was the same for me. That’s why I haven’t been angry. On the contrary, I’m grateful to St. Joseph for helping me to discover my vocation. Even today, I know that I can always count on him.
Is St. Joseph an effective intercessor?
Absolutely! I can’t even remember how many intentions I’ve entrusted to him! But there was one that was very special. We needed money to heat our common room in the convent. One of the sisters said to me, “Go and talk to Joseph.” In the chapel, I stood in front of his statue and explained to him that I had to go to see his wife, the Virgin Mary, at the shrine in Jasna Góra. This meant that I didn’t have much time to talk to him. So I told him right away that I needed a certain amount of money for firewood and that I had to find a solution. It turned out that very evening a German came to the monastery. He left a sum of money in an envelope: it was exactly what we needed.
I know that you entrust him with various intentions and that he always answers you…
I must admit it: I torment St. Joseph with constant requests! People send me their requests. I write them down on little cards that I place under his feet.
For the past five years, you have been working as the cofounder of a soup kitchen for the homeless in one of the city’s neighborhoods.
Yes, I work with volunteers who help me in my daily work. I see how important it is to show love and concern to all these homeless people. A plate of soup isn’t as important as warming them up with love, showing them your heart. Despite the difficulties of their lives, they’re important in God’s eyes. That’s what we try to show them. And they in turn reciprocate with gratitude, with a friendly word. Often, in these moments, I think of Mother Teresa. I love her very much!
She didn’t look to see if someone was dirty or smelled bad. She paid attention to the fact that God lives in every person. The homeless crisis is sometimes caused by the tragedies of life. There are situations where people run away to alcohol or other drugs. They lose their self-esteem and are unable to get back up.
“They not only change themselves but they change me inside.” That’s how you talk about the homeless people you care for. What story has touched you the most recently?
I was once moved by the words of a homeless man. He came to me and said, “My dear sister, I lost my family, my home, and my job. My parents are dead, and my brothers and sisters are dead. I have no one in the world. I drink to forget how much life hurts.” That day he was sober. After that, he never came back. I knew he was praying to God at that time to help him get back on track. That’s what happened. He got his life together, got a job and stopped drinking. His story gave me hope. It moves me and makes me want to serve people more, help them and love them more.
What advice do you have for learning to trust God in daily life, to walk towards holiness?
One must give everything to God, ask Mary for intercession, and pray the rosary. It’s a prayer that works miracles!