In the 1960s, a group of young schoolgirls went on to secondary school and subsequently to the noviciate. During their formation at our Motherhouse, Kermaria, in France, they got to know each other. This year, eight of them, now religious Sisters, met up for a few days of reunion. It was a special time for each one.
We’ve all met before, in different circumstances: on a summer holiday, our 50th birthday or anniversary of religious profession, or during an “open day” at the monastery. This time, the occasion was the end, on the 25th of March, of Germaine / Mother Miriam’s 28 years of service as Abbess of the Abbey de la Coudre, the Cistercian monastery in Laval, France.
Madeleine, Agnès, Marie Hélène, Germaine, Anne Marie, Monique and Odette met together at our house in Carnac on Wednesday the 24th of May. The following day, Anne, who had been unable to join us that day, gave us a warm welcome to her community at Sainte Anne d’Auray, first of all for our pilgrimage to Ste Anne, then for a pilgrimage to “the source” at Kermaria, as Germaine had wished.
Kermaria, a place of memory
At Kermaria, the Sisters gave us a warm welcome over coffee, followed by a tour of the main sites. As we moved around the cloister, in one or other of the communities, the garden, the cemetery, the chapels and St Joseph’s oratory, we met some of the Sisters.
In the background, there was the memory for some of us of our nine years together, for others two years. We remembered the years of formation during the juniorate, postulancy and novitiate, a formation that left its mark on all of us. The bonds that we created in those youthful days, and that some of us have subsequently maintained, have not disappeared. Quite the contrary – they have grown stronger and are now coloured by the different life paths of each one of us.
A time of giving
We talked at length during this time of reunion, freely and without any programme. We shared an aperitif or a meal around the table, with each one spontaneously bringing the food. In the afternoon, a beautiful sunny walk along the seaside paths towards La Trinité offered us the chance to talk individually or in small groups, as well as a magnificent natural environment to enjoy and contemplate!
Everyone agreed that it was a marvellous meeting, the memory of which will stay in everyone’s hearts. It was also a surprise: “It’s amazing, said Germaine, it’s as if we’d never left each other!”
The following Sunday, Pentecost, a priest said that the role of the Spirit is to “bring people together”. We really lived this and experienced it as we met with our diversity, our different personalities, our very different paths in life, some of us since 1959, others since 1966.
The Spirit at work
We give thanks to God for this wonderful experience of friendship and this long history of links created and maintained, on this occasion “revived“. His Spirit is constantly and everywhere at work. It is He who creates communion in diversity and at the very heart of our differences.
Since our meeting, the community of La Coudre in Laval has elected Mother Béatrice Branchereau as its new Abbess on 15 June 2023, for a six-year term.
Spirit of God, sap of love
from the immense tree on to which you graft us,
May all our brothers and sisters around us
appear to us as a gift
in the great Body in which
the Word of communion is completed.
“Thanks to the proposal made by one, spontaneously and positively welcomed by all, we experienced a real moment of encounter in our diversity.” (M. and M.H.)
“I treasure these days – truly – as a moment of grace“. (A.)
As Francine Carillo, pastor and writer, writes,
“True joy takes you by surprise…
On rainy mornings as well as happy ones,
in tragic hours as in magical ones,
there is no happiness other than that of being present.”
(When summer comes)
Srs Odette Le Tutour, et Agnès Provost, djs