After our retreat at l’Île Blanche – the Welcome House in Brittany – we, young sisters of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit who had come to France from other countries, were sent in pairs – for the most part – to communities (Brest, Concarneau, Elven, Le Conquet, Plonévez-du-Faou, Roscoff, Trégueux, Yffiniac) for a 5-day community experience, from 22-27 August. These different communities organised to pick us up at Île Blanche, where sisters Olga and Françoise were in charge of the departures… It was a moment of separation between us on the one hand and, on the other, a moment of welcome from the communities. All this in an atmosphere of joy and hugs.
We were very well received: our photos were displayed with the name of each of us!
The sisters had drawn up a programme for our stay. Our days were punctuated by times of prayer, the Eucharist and meals, where we shared the day’s events and our experiences. There was time for community work (cleaning, cooking, shopping, gardening, etc.) and recreation (games, TV news, etc.).
The communities also organised inter-community meetings where we came together to share what we had experienced during the Pilgrimage to the Sources and what makes up our mission in our respective Units.
The sisters invited us to visit sisters from other communities, to meet their relations including people in distress, to take part in their meeting for the celebration of the “Time of Creation”, to discover the region where we were and other places further afield: the Valley of the Saints, churches with a particular history, a linen weaving workshop, a castle, a market…Some of us were lucky enough to meet and talk with the Bishop of Saint-Brieuc at the Maison diocésaine “Saint Yves” and during a Eucharistic celebration.
We remain touched by the attention paid to us by each of the sisters we visited or met, by the sisters’ concern for each other, the willingness of each one to be of service, the sense of “living together”. We felt at home. Yes, we can affirm that “Fraternal life is built through the joys and sorrows of sharing life; it is our work and it is a gift from God” RL n°7. “Our fraternity in the Congregation is expressed essentially by the fraternity lived in community and by the mutual help of the communities among themselves” RVn°7, 8
It was also saddening for us to know that many of the communities where our sisters have worked so hard are now closed… This helps us to understand our reality today and leads us to ask ourselves what to do? “The spring keeps its mystery.”! Poem “Source obscure” by Madeleine Le Saux, DHS
May Marie Balavenne and all our predecessors in the Father’s House intercede for us in our different communities in the realities of today.
We express our deepest gratitude to the General Council of the Congregation and to all the sisters who welcomed us into their various communities and helped us to live these beautiful experiences of community life.
By Marthe DEBAÏWA, Daughter of the Holy Spirit. Published on 29 August 2023