Sr. Maria Kaleta, an 85-year-old Franciscan Stigmatine nun, was a highlight of Pope Francis’ recent trip to Albania. During his meeting there with priests, religious, seminarians, and members of ecclesial lay movements, Kaleta recounted stories of her faith during the Communist regime in that country.
Kaleta spent seven years with her order but was forced to return home to her family by the Communist regime before taking her final vows. While there, she was unable to publically declare her faith but learned “to keep the faith alive in the hearts of the faithful” in secret.
She recalled a time when a Communist woman approached her and asked her to baptize her child. “I was afraid," Kaleta said, "because I knew the woman was a Communist, and I told her I didn't have anything to baptize her with because we were on the road, but she expressed so much desire that she told me there as a canal with water nearby. I told her I didn't have anything to collect the water with, but she insisted that I baptize that child, and seeing her faith, I took off my shoe, which was made of plastic, and I filled it with water from the canal and baptized her.” This was just one of many times she risked her life and safety to spread God’s word and witness her faith.
Among other stories of how she lived out God’s will in secret for years, Kaleta also focused on the strength her faith gave her. "The Lord gave strength to those He called; in fact, he has repaid me from all my sufferings here on earth," she said.
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