Foreign Service: In Search of a Catholic Church in Not-So-Religious Sweden, One American Family Living There Discovers a Small Yet Vibrant Community

By Adler, Julia M. | U.S. Catholic, October 2006 | Go to article overview

Foreign Service: In Search of a Catholic Church in Not-So-Religious Sweden, One American Family Living There Discovers a Small Yet Vibrant Community


Adler, Julia M., U.S. Catholic


Sweden. Skiing, ice-skating, Vikings, herring, ladies bedecked in glowing candle headdresses, a bilingual population, and meters and meters of snow. When my husband sprang through the front door, home from work, and announced that we had been offered the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live abroad, these were the first thoughts that crossed my mind. Do I really want to transplant my young family to this foreign, frozen territory? We decided, yes.

Pulling them out of a perfectly good Catholic school in Seattle, Washington was a bit worrisome, but it still felt right and I had to face it: I had been praying for a Homeric change of course for us. And you know what they say about praying.

The move was captivating from the start. As we got to know the Swedes, we immediately felt their deep respect for privacy, their infectious love of nature and the outdoors, and their keen, eager way of assisting when asked for help. We also promptly discovered that Swedish is a fascinating language in that it is nothing like our native tongue. "Exit" in Swedish is "utfart," which still causes the kids to giggle. "Thank you" is "Tack sa mycket." And the word for "children" is "barn," which somehow made sense to us.

We settled quickly and happily into our new community and school, the British International Primary School, a 15-minute walk from our rented home in Djursholm, a suburb of Stockholm. All four children could attend, and the classes were small and quite accelerated, which was what we were looking for.

The environment at the school was moderately relaxed but in a "high expectation" sort of way, which worked well for our brood. We were meeting such interesting international people who were kind and welcoming. My husband found his job healthily challenging and was dug in. And the travel. We were ecstatic.

But there remained the looming question of where to find a church. Knowing that Sweden is not a deeply religious country, this "church search" was hanging over me like a swollen Swedish snow cloud.

In the entire country, there are a mere 151 priests. And of 9 million Swedes, exactly 1.6 percent are Catholic. That's a whopping 144,000 total. Despite these statistics, I tried to stay positive.

I quickly discovered that there are three Catholic churches in the city of Stockholm: St. Eric's, St. Eugenia's, and Marie Bebadelse. But only one offered Mass in English and that was on Sunday evenings, which did not work well for us. The hunt was on. I could not envision two years without taking part in the Mass. Before the full-on panic ensued, I began to inquire at our school regarding my dilemma.

Just north of us, we were told, was a small Catholic church called the Church of Our Lady. We attended Mass in Swedish for a while but found the children were not taking part at all but instead enjoying a long, leisurely nap. My husband and I convinced ourselves that receiving Communion alone was worth continuing. My bush-beating, however, was still on full force.

I decided to approach Father Frederick Emanuelson, a small, shy priest with large, friendly eyes at the Church of Our Lady to ask if he could enlighten me. He mentioned a convent full of Bridgettine Sisters not far from our house that ran a retirement home. He said Mass there every Sunday morning at 8:30 in Swedish. We were welcome to join the sisters for Mass whenever we liked. We decided to give it a try. At least it was closer.

Their order, the Order of the Most Holy Savior, was founded in the 14th century and established by, of course, St. Bridget, although they have only resided in Djursholm since 1923. Their apostolate is prayer and tending to the elderly in the retirement home they run.

Dressed in full habits, scurrying and tending to their daily details, the sisters were unfailingly darling and hospitable. They seemed sincerely happy that we joined them each Sunday. We even spent an incredibly devout Lent, Holy Week, and Easter season with them at their chapel and found ourselves moved by their remarkable piety, devotion, and faith. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Foreign Service: In Search of a Catholic Church in Not-So-Religious Sweden, One American Family Living There Discovers a Small Yet Vibrant Community
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.