International Meeting of Young Sisters of the Cenacle
In France in the footsteps of the founders of the Congregation
Opening Session: Sunday, June 30
We started the International Meeting of Young Sisters in Lyon today at 4pm. Sr Patricia Byrne welcomed us with her opening words. She emphasized that this meeting was a privileged time for us to live together the experience of interculturality and to make an exterior and interior journey.
Then Sr Marie-Paule P. did the animation and she asked us to sing a refrain in our own languages to call the Holy Spirit: Portuguese, Chinese, French, Malagasy, Italian, Tagalog, and English. It was an experience of Pentecost.
After that, each of us introduced herself through a symbol prepared ahead of time. We are ery happy to know what fills the heart of each one: her joys, hopes, desires, and also her fears and questions.
We are already entering this time of encounter with a very grateful heart to God. Victorine (Madagascar
Monday, July 1
I felt touched by:
- Father Terme, who did not keep his experience of the Exercises of Saint Ignatius to himself. Through his example, we are invited not to keep a good experience to ourselves, because when we share it, it is life-giving from generation to generation. If we keep it to ourselves, it will die with us.
- Mother Thérèse, who had the experience of seeing reality with the eyes of God who sees beyond our gaze. Her external life was a reflection of her deep interior life. Given this, we may ponder: What does my life reflect? With what gaze do I contemplate all the realities around me? Valeria (Brazil)
Tuesday, July 2
This Tuesday afternoon we met our elderly sisters for a time of sharing on what makes them live today as Cenacle Sisters and the place of Mother Thérèse in their life. For an hour, each one, with simple and deep words, shared a little of her soul and offered us the treasure of her life. Their example motivates us to dare to persevere in following Christ! We finished happily by sharing goûter (refreshments) together. Sophie (Europe-Togo)
Wednesday, July 3
On our way to Le Mas de Sablières (Ardèche) from Lyon, the bus had to pass through Viviers, not the usual route because there were road repairs. Along the way I saw a sign pointing to the direction of Le Puy, which reminded me of Fr. Terme. The journey was 6 hours long, with lots of hills, mountains and gorges on both sides of our view, and this gave me a physical sense of the distance people had to travel in order to go to places or meet people in the days of Fr. Terme and Mother Thérèse. What touched me deeply as I thought about this, was how an encounter with someone from Le Plagnal and someone from Le Mas has given birth to a congregation that is now on different continents. Yna (Asia)
Wednesday-Thursday, July 3-4
Knowing the house where Mother Thérèse lived with her family was deeply touching for me. I felt her presence. From the moment I woke up and while I wrote this, I continued to experience intensely the Se Livrer of Mother Thérèse. It was as if she had lived her offering since childhood until she returned to the arms of God. This has been my experience during these days. Francesca (Brazil)
Wednesday-Thursday, July 3-4
The days spent in the family house of Mother Thérèse in Le Mas had been a gift for me to come to know her better. The stories that were shared moved me. I imagined how it might have been like for her to grow up in a family where faith and love were fundamental values. These were foundational for her upon which her dispositions of steadfastness, trust and self-giving grew. For me, this represented the place where she began to encounter the good God - the cornerstone on which she was able to respond to God and subsequently, on which the congregation was built. Xiao Wei (Asia)
Thursday, July 4
At la source in Sablières,
a young girl discovered
that there was a voice in the song of the water
who said to her as it flowed : “Simply trust in me.”
Flowing among the stones at the mercy of the current,
this source calmly molded a personality.
The rock, still firmly anchored in the ground,
was becoming welcoming, little by little, polished through time.
Over the stone paths, it runs, it runs,
and arrives among us, always fresh and free.
It tells us again, singing with its pure voice:
“To let your life be molded and your edges softened is not so difficult.”
“Just let the source flow
and rejoice in its beauty.”
On the journey with this little girl, my heart is full:
“Yes, truly God is Goodness. I cannot forget it.” Marielle (Europe-Togo)Jeudi, 4 juillet
Vendredi 5 juillet Messe et pique-nique avec le Père Fabien Plantier puis départ du Mas de Sablières (sud de l'Ardèche)pour Lalouvesc (nord de l'Ardèche)
Friday, July 5 Mass with Fr. Fabien Plantier then departure from the Mas de Sablières (South of Ardèche) to Lalouvesc (North of Ardèche)
Friday, July 5 Arrival in Lalouvesc
Much emotion in seeing the body of Mother Thérèse, this simple woman who is for us such a beautiful model of fidelity and trust in God, in God who is good, who is more than good, who is Goodness.
Saturday, July 6
This afternoon we went to discover St Regis through the stained-glass windows of the basilica and a montage that presented his life and his mission. I was touched in particular by his closeness to people, who felt loved by him. They said, "He loved us so much!" He was able to welcome them, to give them relief, to touch their hearts by telling them about Jesus Christ. Through the intercession of St Regis, I ask the Lord that I may learn to love more and more, with tenderness and humility, the people entrusted to me and all those whom I meet. Maurizia (Europe-Togo)
Saturday, July 6
What dwelt in me today was the desire to be at the School of the Heart of my sisters from the ends of the world. Indeed, their love for the Cenacle was built on the rock without knowing the first Cenacle house in Lalouvesc before this morning. But my personal story in the Cenacle is strongly connected to this place. I have come here many times and I have received here great graces for the apostolate, for my formation since the novitiate, and during a personal retreat. This morning, this house to me seemed terribly empty and silent… So I sought to receive from my non-European sisters something of their being Cenacle. Later in our sharing, our Good God answered me through one of my sisters. I feel called to contemplate the women before the empty tomb who hear the Good News that Jesus is alive somewhere else, in another way… A « simple » change of perspective: the life of the Cenacle is no longer here, but it is well and truly elsewhere ! Anne-Catherine (Europe-Togo)
Sunday, July 7
The free time this Sunday in Lalouvesc are times to read letters from Mother Thérèse and Father Terme, and to continue to discover the place.
Reading Mother Thérèse's letter to Mother de Larochenégly, I am touched by her fidelity to share her spiritual life with her superior. Mother Thérèse witnesses for me a way to love sharing my experience in spiritual accompaniment as a religious in the Cenacle, and to receive what comes from others too. The letters of Father Terme make me feel the need to observe the Rules. I am also touched by the life of St. Regis, especially his testimony of caring for others spiritually and humanly.
Finally, the walk in the area helped me to discover and to taste the good landscape of Lalouvesc. Taking the walk together with others, I felt we were "one" in living this international experience. All this gives me a lot of courage to live more the following of Christ. Sylvia (Madagascar)
Monday, July 8
On a sunny day, in the footsteps of Mother Thérèse and following her consecration to Mary, we also ventured on an inner journey to Notre-Dame d’Ay. Some sisters made their way on foot while others joined them by bus. The day took place in an atmosphere of both recollection and joy with personal time, sharing and returning to the history of our Congregation.
Together that we prayed and read in this little chapel the act of consecration of Mother Thérèse in different languages which lead us to a personal consecration. At the end of the day, Patricia Byrne gave us the gift of sharing something of her experience with Mary, and in particular Notre-Dame d’Ay. Mary bears the Christ who himself carries the world. It's our mission! With her and following our founders and superiors, we present the reality of our world today. Patricia ( Europe-Togo)
Monday, July 8
The program of Monday, July 8 was to visit Notre-Dame d’Ay. I chose to go on foot with some sisters of the group. We left Lalouvesc at 6:15 am and arrived at Notre Dame d'Ay at 1:30pm. We traveled about 25 kilometers. All along the way, I felt that we really made a pilgrimage. We crossed mountains, hills and valleys, full of trees.
It was a wonderful experience because we lived together even the small trials of the road. Our team was very lively and courageous. And I felt our strength. It is the union that is strength! During our walk, we lived fraternity, humility and mutual understanding. We really lived a team spirit and each had in her heart that nothing is impossible to God! I liked very much the silence we experienced along the way. It also gave me strength because I deeply believed that Mary our mother walked with us, and the Holy Spirit guided us along the way. Georgette (Madagascar)
Tuesday, July 9 Day of Integration
We had a quiet day of integration on our last full day in Lalouvesc. It was good to review and relish once more the gifts of these days at this very important “source place” of the Congregation. In the evening we said our goodbyes and our appreciation for Marie-Paule who has helped animate our time in France.