On day two or three of our time in Lisbon, she and I had a chance to sit and share in the home of Joao Perloiro, one of the coordinators of A Boa Nova Community in Lisbon. The more I heard of her testimony the more I realized that I was in the presence of an exceptional woman. She quickly won the hearts of the Portuguese brothers and sisters in A Boa Nova, who invited her back to spend some time in their community to study the language before setting out for Maputo in Mozambique.
Eventually Joan got to Mozambique and served for several months in circumstances which would have been daunting for people half her age. After coming back to London, she became an encourager of radical ventures, be it in the Philippines, Detroit or London. She joined us on a Sword of the Spirit Mission Team Weekend (see photograph) and was immediately adopted as our mom: somehow she combined a radical edge with a warm, kind heart.
For the last few years she worked with the poor in many different places, including London’s Wormwood Scrubbs prison. Community was not always an easy place for her, especially when it seemed to lack commitment to the poor. But she remained close friends with many of us in the Sword of the Spirit communities, always sporting her yellow Timberland boots..
After complications following pneumonia Joan passed to her reward on Sunday 25th January. That is the feast of the conversion of St. Paul in some of our liturgical calendars: a fitting “coincidence” for a woman who got knocked off her horse some ten years ago and who since then continued to walk in the footsteps of Christ as closely as she knew how.
May her example inspire many of us to radical discipleship and a love for the poor!
[Dr. Martin A. Steinbereithner
is a member of the Servants
of the Word, an international ecumenical brotherhood of men living
single for the Lord, and the Director for Mission Development for the Sword
of the Spirit in Europe, Middle East & Africa. He currently lives
in Belfast, Northern Ireland..]
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