Carolina Hellman, Swedish priest in Palma

Carolina Hellman, Swedish priest in Palma, Christmas market in the church.

10-05-2021Jessika Ekman

The 30th of April is an important date in Sweden and Finland where we celebrate Valborg or the arrival of Spring. As a tradition, we do a bonfire, where we burn all different types of garden debris and sing a special song. There is as always, some food and drinking on the menu. For many years the Swedish church in Mallorca has arranged a lovely evening with a typical Valborg bonfire night, that included singing from the church choirs, food, and drinks. It has been very popular.

The Swedish church in Palma since it opened in 1981 has been a natural meeting point for Swedes living in and visiting Mallorca. In the early days ,the famous Swedish brewed coffee was a huge magnet for visitors, as well the church service, and later the playgroups for the small children. Many couples have taken advantage of the possibility to get married legally under the sun, and some years we have counted over 200 wedding ceremonies in the church per season. When the volunteers of the church started a traditional Swedish Christmas market even the Mallorcan population found their way, and every year the market has been a magnet to the locals who live on the island in November.

I had the pleasure to work in the church kitchen during the extremely hot summer of 2009 and during that heatwave, I made around 5,000 cinnamon buns before I took my apron off for good. I must admit I have not baked a bun since then. It was busy times and during my time there I realised this church is so much more than just a Church. Yes, there is mass and people come and worship, but the word social club comes to mind very easily.

This year we have two female priests working in the church Carolina and Carin. I had a word with Carin last week and she told me that the restrictions still affect the day-to-day work. She explains “Our diaconal activities are the foundation of our church. We are there for calls, hospital visits, interpreter help, help with government contacts and home visits.”
We work closely with the Catholic Church on the island and with the other churches. We belong to an ecumenical group.

The priests have changed their way of working during last year. With the church closed, the regular staff was sent home and the only chance to reach out to the people was to go online. Carin started a podcast together with her priest colleague Carolina. It’s called “Priests on the verge of a nervous breakdown.” They also use Facebook and send live and programme small messages to give people hope and feel the fellowship. The church works very closely with the Swedish school and in times like these, the need to talk has increased also for the younger community. Therefore, the church assists classes regularly and talks to the students on topics like “life and death”.

Last year during lockdown, the Swedish church moved upstairs in their new local on Joan Miro 113 in Palma. Now they have easy access, and the style is bright and very Nordic-inspired. A large terrace has been added, and the plan is to be able to do more social gatherings and rooftop style wedding ceremonies directly in the church, by the sea in Can Barbara in Palma.

Hopefully, there will be more couples taking advantage of the possibility to get married this summer, because hand on your heart if you have lived through the first pandemic in modern history as a couple you are for sure ready for a stronger commitment.

Scholarship at the Swedish School

The word idyllic comes to mind when the Swedish School Mallorca is mentioned. The School is a hidden gem with a garden in the Terreno district in the middle of Palma. The business is run by the parents in a charming old palace and opened in 1968 in Palma. It has always been a very popular option for schooling in the Swedish community. I spoke to the headmaster Therese Lottini and she said : “Since the high school initiative started in 2018, we have increased the number of students every year and now all upper secondary school places have been filled for the academic year 2021-2022. Approximately 140 students attended this year.” Last week the School had the special function where they gave out the yearly scholarship.

Amanda Wretenheim Skog, 16, is the winner of 2021. Born in Stockholm, she moved to Majorca together with her family and her Horse, Mavis up to Puerto Pollensa. Amanda attends the high school Economics programme and combines her studies in the school with equestrian sports.

She is trained by Emily Marsh in Establiments (Ses Rotjas) where she already competes in Mallorca with her own horse. She has achieved excellent study results and shared the most inspiring story about the study trip they have made. As the school’s ambassador, she receives about half the academic year fee in the form of a scholarship. “I live my dream here on the island with my horse!” she says. Congratulations Amanda!

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