The “Pilgrimage to the Sources” began with the symbolic prayer of invocation to the Holy Spirit to help us to be attentive and receptive in what we are about to discover of the origins of our Founders and on how they lived, prayed, worked, and served the people of their time.
We set off on our pilgrim journey in Le Légué, the cradle of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit. While we listened and learned the way of life of the people during the time of Marie BALAVENNE, Renée BUREL and their companions and saw the place where the mission all started in 1706, which is to respond to the sign of the times. We were struck in their simplicity, gentleness and selflessness towards the poor, the sick and the children,despite of their nothingness.
Nevertheless, God never abandoned them, but instead provided them Jean LEUDUGER, to guide them spiritually and support them in their mission of love and later on in 1712, helped them to acquire the “First House of Charity”, in order to continue their good works to help the people in distress, specifically, teaching little girls and caring for the poor and the sick. However, Jean Leuduger was in fact, not alone, there were three anonymous benefactors who provided him a sufficient amount of money to purchase the house. In this house, we were warmly welcomed by Madame JOUVE. A lovely woman who restored and continue to give life to it.
We listened to the two “Testaments” of Marie Balavenne and Renée Burel. We believe that they were also expressions of their genuine trust towards their companions, to carry on the mission that they had started, with simplicity and humility. We also learned that René-Jean ALLENOU DE LA VILLE ANGEVIN, the parish priest of Plérin, whom, few years after the death of Jean Leuduger, requested the little society of the Sisters of Charity in Plérin and was approved by the Bishop of Saint-Brieuc in 1733. The pilgrim group was filled with joy as we tracked the birthplaces of our Founders and where they worked, lived, died and buried, and with the other relevant people affiliated with our Congregation around Plérin and Taden, as well as the chapels and churches where they used to pray.
We were privileged to speak with Renée Burel’s family and to pray where she prayed, in the chapel at Argantel. We also had the opportunity to speak with members of the family of René-Jean Allenou de la Ville Angevin in Pordic, where he was born. We also met and talked with one of the pupils of the Sisters in Taden who lives behind the house of the Sisters in “Petit Bon Espoir”. Seeing the ruins of the manor house of la Garaye brought memories to us, specially, to the Sisters who are in health care, as this was the place where the Sisters learned how to nurse the sick poor people around the area without having a degree and they taught the Sisters in Plérin from the knowledge they acquired from the Count and Countess of la GARAYE.
The most soul-stirring part of our pilgrimage was when we entered the church of St. Peter in Plérin, where our Founders/Foundresses served and the place where the first Sisters had been buried. We prayed for them and with them and thanked them for the marvellous example of good works that they laid before us to follow.
Above all, allowing to see, touch, and enter into the “First Mother House” of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit and to feel the atmosphere within the house where Marie Balavenne lived and died, our first Superior General and finally the overwhelming hospitality and generosity of the Sisters in the community of Plérin; make our experience no longer a history but a reality of what our Sisters have lived and passed on to us.
We have drunk from the sources and we are now quenched!
A million thanks to our four extraordinary Sisters in the Archives who made our “Pilgrimage to the Sources” possible. To the Pilgrimage Team, to all the Sisters, who in one way or the other, partook in our pilgrimage where we were. Most of all, to Sr. Ann ALMODOVAR and her Councellors, for giving us an opportunity to visit our sources. May God bless you all.
Written by: Marilou IWAY, DHS. UK. Published on 12 August 2023
Photo 01: Pilgrimage begins with a prayer
Photo 02: at Le Légué
Photos 03, 04, 05: walk to discover the places of the Founders
Photos 06, 07, 08: at the church of Saint Pierre in Plérin
Photos 09, 10: the first “Mother House” in Plérin
Photo 11: A time of gratitude.