The younger sisters of the Congregation, gathered in Kermaria from July 14th to 30th for a pilgrimage in the footsteps of our founders, share with us the precious fruits of this return to the source of what it means to be a Daughter of Jesus and of our spirituality.
The general goal of our pilgrimage was :
“to go, as pilgrims together, and drink at the source in order to better appropriate
and live out the Gospel today according to our charism and spirituality.”
In pursuit of this goal, I lived this time of pilgrimage in an attitude of recollection, availability and inner openness, in search of the treasure hidden in our charism and spirituality. As I discovered the different places of birth, formation, and mission of our predecessors, this interior disposition allowed me to absorb the realities experienced by our founders. Without forgetting the other places we visited, it was Bignan that particularly struck me. I can affirm with joy and thanksgiving that it remains the cradle of our history and the place where that precious pearl remains. It was there that the seed buried in the ground by Father Noury sprouted and the gesture of the gift of his heart testifies to his great love for us.
This pilgrim experience greatly enriched me. It fulfilled my long-held desire to live this return to the origins in order to :
- retrace the steps of our founders and founders,
- touch with my fingers their lives given in service to their brothers and sisters,
- allow myself to be challenged by the realities of their times.
It has also consolidated and reaffirmed in me, my pride in belonging to the religious family of the Daughters of Jesus and in the beauty of its charism that takes into account the person as a whole.
I feel the call to witness in the future to the evangelical and human values embodied by our founders, those shown by :
- Father Noury in his simplicity and attention to the poor.
- Father Coëffic as he humbly implemented the project conceived by Father Noury.
- Mother Saint Angèle in her disappropriation and abandonment to the will of God.
- Mother Saint Charles in her faith and total trust in the Lord.
The latter constantly invites me to pray like her to the Virgin :
“Help us to go forward, using every available means to grow in humility which frees us and in simplicity which leads us to peace,
gentleness and confidence in God “.
This prayer has been a strength, light, reference, and foundation for me since I was a novice. I rely on it when times are difficult. It strengthens my faith so that I can give myself over, like our Mother, to the will of God and continue my path in trust.
In short, at the end of this beautiful pilgrimage experience, I feel fulfilled and convinced that it is the hand of God that has led my footsteps in those of our founders. 1834-2018, what mystery? What beautiful story? Bless you, Lord, for having fulfilled my desire, by rekindling in me that fire of love which burned in the hearts of our founders.
Sr Pauline fj
Christelle expresses her feelings:
Going back to the source of our founders, following in their steps, what they lived and experienced in their bodies and minds, allowed me to look back at my own personal, apostolic and relational life. This in turn, has given me the impetus and missionary zeal to follow the exhortation of our dear Mother Marie de Saint Charles when she wrote :
“to always go forward with my strengths and fragilities by always trusting to God with love.”
This experience allowed me to discover the qualities of our founders :
- people who were attentive to the needs and calls of the poor.
It is a call for me to continue today on this same path of simplicity, availability, and attention to the most disadvantaged.
Deborah: The Gospel according to our charism and spirituality
As a way to appropriate and live out the Gospel according to our charism and spirituality in our world of today, the Congregation offered us the beautiful gift of going on pilgrimage to our places of origin.
This pilgrimage lit up for me the whole history of the Congregation that I learned during my time as an aspirant and then novice. With each founder and foundress, I had a taste of something different :
- trust in God,
- poverty of the heart,
- knowing how to enter into another’s project, to work with others,
- the spiritual life.
In all of this, I discovered the spirit and spirituality of the Daughters of Jesus. I was also touched by the welcome we received from our Sisters in the province of France-Belgium. At the end of my experience, I feel joy, trust, and thanksgiving.
Viviane Some highlights of the pilgrimage :
“How beautiful your works are, O Lord! Every man is a sacred story.
Man is made in the image of God. “
What greatly marked me in this experience of drinking at the source were :
- Looking back on the history of each founder,
- Seeing how God entered in a particular way into the history of each one,
- Seeing how God used the personality of each one to realize his purpose for them.
Returning to my origins I felt both challenged and joyful. I re-read my story with gratitude and looked carefully at the traces of God in my life. I gave thanks and testified to his great deeds in my daily life.
As I let myself be shaped by the origins of each founder, I felt Psalm 139 resonate in me :
“Your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast … For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb … I praise you because I am fearfully
and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
The community of Bignan, also touched me. I realized that this place is the root of our
Congregation. Everything comes from this place. Upstairs in the chapel at Bignan, I imagined Mother Marie de St Charles sitting as she prayed and contemplated the traces of God. Certainly, in her moments of trial, she came here to abandon herself to the Lord, to confide her worries, and to speak to him heart to heart. From her writings, I retain this expression :
“To find a solitude in the depths of my heart where I become accustomed to discussing all things with Our Lord before I discuss them with men and while I will act exteriorly, I will try to always have an inner eye fixed on the divine model that I desire to copy.”
This prayer invites me to trust in the Lord every day.