On Sunday 13th September, the Daughters of Jesus of the Community of Tonneins in the South of France were surprised by the Associates who wanted to celebrate the jubilee of religious life of two Sisters in the community and that of Sister Jean Marie. They share with us echoes of this celebration and the testimonies expressed.
In the Community of Tonneins, we are 2 jubilarians: Michèle with 50 years of religious life, and Paulette 60 years. Moreover, Sister Jean Marie, the former Superior of Vaylats, who arrived in the diocese in January 2020, is also celebrating her diamond anniversary. So, that makes three jubilarians.
The Associates take the initiative
The Associates in the Diocese know Vaylats well and meet regularly at our community in Tonneins. They were keen to celebrate the long presence of the Sisters in their area and to honour the jubilarians whom they have known for a long time. So, they prepared everything: invitations, inscriptions, the preparation of the toast and the shared meal.
Expressions of friendship and gratitude
During the Eucharist, the Associates expressed their friendship and gratitude towards the Daughters of Jesus as well as their commitment to living the charism of the Congregation in their daily lives:
– “I will remember all my life the first time I went to Vaylats. I found a joy and a deep-rooted spirituality there. Vaylats is a magical place, a place where you discover a sense of peace and sharing. You find solidarity, friendship, and family and above all, a place where you can exchange around questions of faith and God.”
– “As soon as I arrived in France with my family, Sister Michèle welcomed us and helped us to feel at home in Lot and Garonne.”
– “Some years ago now, the Sisters proposed that we become lay Associates, to live with them a Gospel journey, made up of meetings, exchange and sharing around the Word of God. Becoming an Associate means trying to live on a daily basis the charism of Father Liausu, their founder, “I have pity on this crowd“. We give thanks for this shared journey, these moments of conviviality.”
– “Married for 30 years, we went for the first time to Vaylats to meet the Daughters of Jesus. The Sisters welcomed us with great humanity. Their way of life, their closeness and their listening encouraged us to go further in our reflection. Today, through our commitment as a couple and as lay people associated with the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus of Kermaria, we continue to pursue this charism through our family, social and professional relationships”.
– “With others, we felt the need to continue our exchanges by seeking to live out together, as lay people and religious, the spirituality of the Daughters of Jesus. We wanted to re-read our lives in the light of the Gospel and take time to listen to each other. Thank you, Sisters, for what you do.”
The Jubilarians reply
We, the Sisters, only had to “add our touch” to the universal prayer and the offertory procession. We also accepted the parish priest’s invitation to replace the homily with our testimoies of religious life.
“This is what has made me a religious: “You have seduced me, and I have allowed myself to be seduced”.
“In spite of the desires of a “normal” future – the choice of a profession, the desire to start a family, family worries – the call of Christ has always been the strongest. When I was 20 years old, I set out on the road to the convent. What an adventure! For me, whether reaching out to the weakest and the suffering, whoever they may be, responding to today’s calls, it is in connection with Jesus and his message. It is trying to translate the Gospel into action, despite my limits, my poverty, and my weaknesses. The road I took when I was 20 years old has become wider, and at times winding. Along the way I have met beautiful and varied flowers, as well as some brambles. However, I give thanks today for being able to celebrate 50 years of giving, because He is there at the heart of my life, at the heart of our lives and He never abandons us. »
Sister Saint Paul tells us in turn:
“Recently, I read on a prayer sheet: “Do not make others happy without them. » and I think that it is the same for God. He doesn’t make us happy without a “yes” from us and our modest participation. These successive “yeses” have filled my life with sharing and richness, with encounters, and with experiences which I could not have imagined at the beginning of my religious life. There are also the thousand little “yeses” to be said every day, even if sometimes they escape me.
Yes, Lord, be praised for these 60 years of life in your service. We cannot make others happy without them but saying “yes” opens wide horizons.”
A successful celebration
We respected the social distances, we wore a mask if necessary and we didn’t have to go into quarantine afterwards. All in all, it turned out to be a successful party.
We give thanks to God for this beautiful day that revealed a little more of our presence in the area and made better known our vocation in the midst of everyone. It also revealed the commitment of the Associates, whether as a couple or not.
The Associates, for their part, were delighted with the day. Some of the young adults who look after the children and teenagers during the celebrations at Vaylats, also expressed their joy in getting to know the Daughters of Jesus.
We said goodbye with, “See you soon” for the continuation of our meetings, community and Associates, with the programme already in preparation.
The Daughters of Jesus community Tonneins, France