The Sisters of the communities of Saint-Evarzec, Finistère and Tonneins, Lot-et-Garonne share with us how they responded to the invitation of Pope Francis to share the Gospel through personal witness and welcome during the Extraordinary Mission Month of October 2019.
The October letter of Sister Yvette Le Grand, Diocesan Delegate for Religious Life, challenged us deeply in the community at Saint-Evarzec. After reflection together, we opted for two “Open Door” afternoons on November 9 and 10.
But, how could we get this project off the ground?
First of all, we met with the priests in charge of the Parish of Our Lady of the Sea in the Pays Fouesnantais area. They were in favour of our project.
Then, we worked out exactly how we would publicise these two days :
– Posters, announcements at the end of Mass and in the monthly parish leaflet
– Information in the newspaper and, at the suggestion of a town councillor, on the municipality web-site
– Personal contacts.
Together, we then looked for ways to animate the two afternoons. We came up with :
– Old photos of the school, students and others
– Panels on our founders, our spirituality, our insertion in the world
– DVD of the Congregation
– Visit of the house
We helped each other and for the finishing touches, we appreciated the help of Mrs Armelle Delaplace, our community assistant. To make for a better flow through, we spread it out in various places in the house.
And off we went into the unknown, with confidence!
On the Saturday afternoon, November 9, we were greatly surprised to see so many people arrive – known and unknown, different in age, from different places and walks of life conditions … great joy on both sides!
Former pupils came to visit their school which operated from 1881 to 1971. From then on with the arrival of mixed schooling, the pupils joined Saint-Louis School whose direction was entrusted to Sister Marie Catherine Nicot, Daughter of Jesus.
How many visitors did we have? 80 on Saturday, a hundred on Sunday! It was necessary to stay in good humour…
What we’ve learned from these two days
- Expansive joy expressed in the entrance hall, especially by a former teacher at the sight of former pupils not only in the photos but in the flesh. There was a happy hubbub! Others simply said to us: “We have come for you, my Sisters. »
- Thanks to the DVD and the panels, everyone became better acquainted with the Congregation and showed astonishment at the development of Kermaria as well as the extension of the Congregation in the world. They also discovered our founders and the spirit that animates us.
- After a time of silence or prayer in the chapel, the refreshments were much appreciated over very lively conversations, recalling memories and sharing with the Sister
“Thank you, Sisters, for your welcome today, thank you for your welcome every day, especially at times when life is hard for us.”
These two days were Invigorating for us and gave us increased hope as well as the acknowledgement of knowing that we are well inserted in a people who count on our presence and our prayer. At the same time, they gave us the opportunity to create new bonds. The visit was too quick for some who would like to know more about us and have more details about “being an Associate”.
It’s up to us to follow up
with the joy that dwells in us!
Community of Saint-Evarzec
“Baptised and sent” at Tonneins
The Daughters of Jesus community sparked off a meeting at parish level. A dozen lay people responded to the invitation of the three Sisters, each of whom had had missionary experience in the Ivory Coast. The group took note of the message of Pope Francis and divided into two teams to reflect on how to mark “Extraordinary Missionary Month“.
Two proposals emerged:
- Drinks together after Mass on Sunday, October 20th. This allowed the parish community, which is scattered across several villages, to take the time to talk to each other and to get to know each other. The “bissap” from the Ivory Coast, a drink made from Ibiscus flowers, fuelled the exchanges. The ambience at the end of the Mass was excellent and we asked to have it again at the next meeting!
- A “missionary rosary” on October 24th prepared by a Sister and a laywoman. As an aid in our prayer, we emphasised the five colours, representative of the five continents. A large luminous globe put us in the presence of the whole world. If the small number of participants disappointed us, the quality of the prayer comforted us. One lady told us: “It was good! Your way of presenting the decades brought the countries back to mind and it was a real missionary rosary! “
With the five colours :
Yellow reminded us of Asia, land of the Rising Sun, the cradle of very ancient civilizations, a continent that explodes with life and youth, praying that Christ may be more present there.
Blue recalled Oceania, because of the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, enveloping the thousands of islands of this continent, that the Gospel may be more widely spread there.
Green symbolized Africa, because of its green forests in spite of deforestation, and of the many countries that have suffered so much but are open to the Good News.
Red stood for North America, the colour of the first inhabitants, the “Redskins”, and the promise of new missionary forces.
White, our colour, reminded us of Europe, that it may regain its Christian vigour and its evangelising power.
And since it was a Thursday, we prayed the Luminous Mysteries, indicating each continent, and with intentions for each continent based on current events or taken from our reading. To top all that, our parish priest asked us to intervene on a Sunday in October, so that each one could say how the fact of having been abroad affected her life here and now.
Baptized, we are all sent,
whatever our horizon, our work, our life.
Community of Tonneins