30 August 2023 marked exactly 60 years of religious life for Sister Juliette Houdemont. Juliette was professed on 30 August 1963, along with Paulette, Marie, Sophie and Paule Agnès.
A Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated in the church of Saint Martin du Champy in Noisy-le-Grand, a town in the Seine-Saint-Denis department of the Île-de-France region, where Juliette is in community with Sister Marie-Madeleine Guihard. Our Paris community was invited, and received a warm welcome from the laity!
– During the Mass, Juliette gave us a full account of her life from childhood to the present day. Social and fraternal life has always been present. As a child, she was used to playing and sharing with others. Her mother introduced her to prayer. Then training as a housewife introduced her to the world of work and the fight for greater justice. The JOC (Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne – Christian Workers’ Youth) had a strong influence on her in terms of defending working conditions, reflection and prayer. It was during one of these meetings that the question of religious life came to her.
The first stage of her religious life was marked by her commitment to the Congregation of Notre Dame de Briouze, working in parishes and with young people for 31 years. The second part of her religious life was marked by the merger of this congregation with that of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost 1994, 29 years ago.
The Rule of Life and the icon of the Trinity were placed before the altar. “The first Daughters of the Holy Spirit wanted to live together to serve the poor, the sick and children”. (Rule of Life, art. 1)
– Another highlight of the Mass was a slide show presenting the congregation of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit. We were able to recognise the stained glass window of the church in Plérin, the place where Marie Balavenne and Renée Burel, the first sisters of the Congregation in 1706, made their commitment, and glimpses of our mission today. “Sent together to share life, prayer and the same mission, we seek to make our communities places of fraternity and hospitality.”
Juliette then renewed her vows.
– After the mass, a time of conviviality was organised where we were able to meet people from Noisy-le-Grand who had prepared so well the drinks, cakes and delicious little cakes that we were able to enjoy.
We really enjoyed this evening, which helped us to become aware once again that God accompanies us at every stage of our lives. “By accepting to be the servant of God’s desire, Marie Balavenne allowed the breath of love to act, she allowed the gift to bear fruit in her and in her people. She did this with simplicity in her ordinary life as a woman of the people”.
Odile DESIRE, DHS Published on 7 September 2023