Experience in the heart of an EHPAD

Today, 29 July 2022, a day of joy in Plestin-les-Grèves: we are celebrating Anne Galliou’s birthday and what a birthday it is! Anne is one hundred years old!

 For this occasion, the cook has prepared a magnificent cake for her. Standing up, accompanied by Marie-Claire Froger, Community Leader, she walks through the dining room where everyone is tasting their magnificent piece of cake. The emotion is shared!  Anne also received a beautiful frame and flowers.

Plestin-les-Grèves is a beautiful town in Brittany, France, where the retirement home “Notre Dame” is located. It has a community of Daughters of the Holy Spirit serving the EHPAD (Etablissement d’Hébergement pour Personnes Agées Dépendantes). There are currently about fifty sisters and forty lay people. I came for a fortnight, during my annual leave, to be with the community of service to the residents, sisters and lay people.
I really appreciated the simplicity, the humour and the fraternity of the residents. I was touched by the way of praying which allows everyone to take part: the residents who are able to do so come down to the prayer room and the chapel; for those who are more difficult to move around or who are more tired, there is an internal network which allows those who wish to do so to follow the services and the mass on television in their rooms.  There is also a room called “The Source”, also equipped with the internal television circuit where some people gather and, as in the rooms, can follow the services and Mass from a distance.  I was particularly touched by this room! Sometimes sisters arrive after the service has begun: no one makes any reflections. Everyone is welcomed with a smile. Everything is very simple. During the prayer, peace settles in. Sometimes, glances are exchanged. One starts humming a song, the others follow. I witnessed a small feat by Louise, the oldest member of the community, who is 103 years old: she sang, in Breton, three verses of the song “Notre Dame du Folgoët”… and others sang with her!

This experience allowed me to make more concrete the word humility that we find in the Rule of Life.  Thus, in the first chapter of the Rule: “They were humble women inhabited by the audacity of the Spirit”.  The premises of “La Source” were a haven of peace for me after a hectic year in Paris where I usually live in community.

Odile DESIRE, Daughter of the Holy Spirit. Published on 1 August 2022

The photos.
1) Sister Anne Galliou with Sister Marie-Claire Froger
2) Sister Anne with the beautiful 100th birthday hat
3) Sister Anne and her gifts
4) Tasting of the beautiful cake.