Our Congregation of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit has been present in the diocese of Blois since 1969. A community lived in Montoire from 1969 to 1998.
In 1996, the Diocesan Committee of the Workers’ Mission of Loir-et-Cher -France- reflected on the presence of religious life in the diocese. It highlighted the way in which religious life participates in the Church’s mission of evangelisation. It was in this context that Bishop Cuminal asked our Congregation to open a community in the northern districts of the ZUP of Blois. The request made to the Daughters of the Holy Spirit was to live a simple presence among the people of the district, and to collaborate with the Christians who were already trying to create social links there.
The four Sisters of the community were given fraternal accommodation on their arrival by the Franciscan Sisters Servants of Mary, and a few months later they were given a flat in a council estate. They became involved in various associations and in pastoral work: Women Together, Catholic Relief Services, Secours Populaire, Pastoral Care for Migrants, Catechumenate Service, Pastoral Council, and the Parish Welcome Office. Through their commitments, they were aware that they were “Participating with others in the Mission of Love of the Holy Spirit in our world”, as expressed in our Rule of Life.
Shortly after their arrival, they wrote in the parish newspaper: “We would like to be, in this wounded world, signs of hope and of the love of God. For this, we need time, but already we can say, all four of us, that we love “this country” to which we have been sent.
For various reasons, the community had to move, still in low-cost housing: in 2005 and in 2008. In 2011, at the request of Mgr de Germiny, the Sisters came to live where they are today, in the Maison Paroissiale Saint Joseph. Fr de Germiny wanted them to continue their activities, while maintaining a prayerful and welcoming presence in the presbytery. This is very much in line with the spirituality of our Congregation. As our Rule of Life says: “The first Daughters of the Holy Spirit wanted to live together to serve the poor, the sick, the children. They did all they could to be witnesses together of the love that changes the world. They drew the love that animated them from adoration of the Trinity. They lived simply among the people”. RV art 1
In the neighbourhood and the parish, Sisters Yvonne, Marie-Thérèse and Paulette were involved in the pastoral care of health, the Workers’ Mission, the formation and accompaniment of future deacons and catechumens, as well as in the integration of migrants within the Secours Catholique. They felt supported by the priests and all the pastoral actors of the diocese. They have given, but they have also received a lot from you, through the quality of your commitments, the trust you have placed in them, the friendship you have offered them.
As you know, we, the Sisters, are not here just to “do” things. We carry in our personal and community prayer the lives of all those with whom we live or meet. As we re-read this experience, we seek to discover the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in our world and in every person we meet.
The 12 ESF who have lived in Blois for over 25 years have been happy and have given the best of themselves. Like Yvonne, Marie-Thérèse and Paulette, they were happy with the relationships they were able to create with you and with what they experienced in their various commitments. It is with deep regret that we close the Community. But vocations are becoming rare. Our numbers are decreasing. Our average age and health have become fragile, and we are no longer able to strengthen the existing communities.
In the name of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit who have lived among you and in the name of the Congregation, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your welcome and for all the ties that have been woven between you and the community for more than 25 years. Through this Eucharist, let us give thanks to the Lord for all this experience. May the Holy Spirit accompany you so that the Good News of the Risen Christ continues to spread!
“Marie-Thérèse, Paulette and Yvonne, we are sad to see you go but let us not be selfish, you have given a lot to Blois and it is time for you to get closer to your families and especially to take care of yourselves. You knew how to share your mission of consecrated life with us. You have surely contaminated us (not the COVID) but to ensure our mission of welcoming the smallest and our mission of evangelisation. We will remember you as open, available, welcoming and sharing the Love of Christ.”
Bernadette Buteau, on behalf of the EAP of the parish of St-Pierre-St-Joseph de Blois.