The novices meet in spite of everything

Since October 2020, the new Daughters of Jesus novices have joined the inter-novitiate at Chevilly Larue on the outskirts of Paris. In spite of the strict sanitary measures imposed by the pandemic, which led to a second session by video-conference, the participants succeeded in joining one another and in working together.

The objectives of this formation are varied! There is of course, the teaching given by qualified speakers on the main aspects of religious life. We should not forget however, the benefits of meeting and sharing between novices from different cultures and congregations.

The session of 9-11 October 2020, dealt with “the foundations of religious life”. It brought together 36 novices from 15 congregations and was animated by a Clerc de Saint Viateur, Br Philippe Arnal. A living witness convinced of the beauty of religious life, he left us with this refrain:

“To live like Christ, always surrendered to love in order to follow his way of life in trust, strength and praise.”

 

Participate and forge links

 

From the beginning the teaching method favoured bonding and participation:

– Integrated into the historical journey of religious life, each novitiate presented its

congregation using a Powerpoint presentation prepared in advance.

– Times of reflection brought the novices together in “life groups”.

– The liturgy, the service and an evening of relaxation were prepared in teams.

The novice masters and mistresses were not inactive either! While the novices were working in groups, they also worked, organised, evaluated, and planned. They too, had their part in the evening’s relaxation to prepare!

 

By video-conference

 

It was a joy for us to experience this session “face-to-face”, but it didn’t last! Three weeks later, the confinement found us living another experience. We had to follow two sessions, “Prayer” and “Eucharistic Religious Life”, by video-conference and reduce our group sharing to the novitiate itself. The inter-novitiate coordination team looked after the technical aspects and those in charge of each novitiate were given a pre-session introduction on how it functioned. Everything went well despite the anguish of one facilitator and the trial and error of several mistresses.

 

Reactions and sharing

 

Anyway, I will let the participants from our novitiate speak for themselves:

  • “Concentrating on a screen for six day is tiring, but I must admit that these means of communication are very important and allowed us to experience enriching sessions.”
  • “Meeting by way of a screen is limited, but it was good to see the other participants in their place of life.”
  • “It allowed us to see and hear one another, and to communicate through smiles and hand signals.”
  • “I wasn’t really comfortable talking in front of a screen!”

Sr Nicole, who is a member of the novitiate community, but not directly involved in inter-novitiates, also shares her experience with us:

  • “I had the opportunity and the joy of following a conference on prayer in apostolic religious life. It reminded me of St. Ignatius’ method of prayer, and I appreciated it. I was invited to give my testimony on my way of living the Eucharist in my religious life.”
  • “The programme of sessions displayed on the fridge door and on our table allowed me to follow the whole of the two sessions … and the house wasn’t empty!”

 

Looking forward to the next session

 

This new way of living an inter-novitiate puts us in solidarity with all those who, throughout these days and months, have been working at a distance. At the beginning of December, we will renew the experience for the session on “Fraternal life in community” while waiting to know once more the joy of meeting together for real.

 

The novitiate community, Paris, France

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