On the afternoon of February 2, brothers and sisters with whom we are linked by mission in our sector of the diocese of Quimper et Léon – in Brittany, France – joined us at Ile Blanche and enjoyed a time of fraternity, prayer and conviviality. A truly rejuvenating time! It’s a rich tradition: the meeting takes place every year, moving from one community to another.
As we reminisce among ourselves, in our community, about this opportunity for rich encounter, we note several reasons to rejoice…
First of all, the joy of reunion between communities with very different missions is obvious: the Augustinian sisters of Morlaix, the Missionary Fathers of St Jacques de Guiclan, the Daughters of the Holy Spirit of Roscoff, the inter-congregational community of Ile Blanche and the Carmelites of Morlaix, who come out of the enclosure for this important occasion. Fr Lommig Gonidou, chaplain at Ile Blanche, also took part in the meeting.
Our discussions showed that the apostolic dynamism of religious life has not been undermined by the trials and tribulations that some of us have had to endure, and that solidarity between congregations and within dioceses has not been lacking at times like these. We are thinking in particular of the Missionary Fathers of St Jacques, whose new Superior General, Fr André Siohan, elected at the end of June 2023, died ten days later at the age of 56! During the meeting, the new Haitian Superior General and his team gave us a beautiful testimony of hope, sharing courageous missionary projects. As we listened to them, we were able to repeat to ourselves, “Yes, life is stronger than death!”
What also touched us was the international dimension represented in the room: Brazil, Haiti, Congo, Burkina-Faso, witness to populations in great difficulty, to whom our congregations are committed. The Superior General of the Augustinian Sisters, herself from Burkina Faso, had just returned from a visit to communities in Burkina, Nigeria…. and was on her way to South Africa: a stimulating opening!
We were also stimulated by our Carmelite Sisters. On May 5, they will be celebrating 400 years of Carmelite presence in Morlaix. Today’s international community is made up of six sisters: a courageous “little Remnant” inhabited by the audacity of the Holy Spirit. In the festivities they are actively preparing, their concern is to help people live and discover the message of Carmel for our world and for today’s Church. The projects they have shared with us bear witness to their diocesan openness.
After this simple and stimulating time of exchange, a time of prayer together enabled us to join consecrated persons from all over the world gathered on February 2, and to sing with renewed conviction:
Walk with us, Risen Jesus
Share our paths, our doubts, our wounds
At a time when our hopes are but vanity
Let your voice reassure us.
R/ It is no other sign of life than to give love
We recognized it at dusk
As the morning star rises in us.
The convivial snack that brought the meeting to a close helped to foster a fraternity that will support us in our humble daily lives.
Catherine Roth and the Ile Blanche community. Published February 6, 2024