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Discernment

Three Catholic Sisters undertook to conduct a census on a housing estate in Wolverhampton. They little knew what the result would be. The estate was known as a place to avoid, a deprived and even dangerous place. Surprising to them at the time, they were welcomed, invited into homes and soon realized their task was just to listen. The stories told touched and challenged them. 'Why aren't we living here?' they soon began to ask. They could see their coming was giving hope to those they met.

An approach was made to the Council and two flats were made available. The three moved in and just went about daily life, listening and learning. One day they received an invitation to a Tupperware party in a nearby flat and as a follow on were asked if they would host one. Their party was the beginning of people just dropping in - the open door a warm invitation. Gradually a Community began to form and became a springboard for positive action that was to be an integral part of the estate's regeneration over the next years.

A community member was showing a visitor around and as they walked a resident asked 'What are you doing?' The question was a friendly one and the answer he was given was 'We're just out for a walk...' This brought the ready response 'Ah, when you folk walk, good things happen!' From the start the Sisters saw the importance of just being alongside, enabling local people to use their own skills and energy to bring about change. Out of people's hopes and concerns a dream began to emerge of a Family Centre located in the heart of the estate as an continuing place of welcome to all. This is now the open door.

Listening leads to Discernment.



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