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Marie Balavenne: 350 years !

An unusual number of women and men converge towards 20 rue des Capucins in Saint Brieuc, France. This Saturday 19 March 2016, the Mother House of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit is joyfully celebrating the 350th anniversary of Marie Balavenne, the one who is at the origin of the DHS Congregation; the one who is also, on a larger scale, at the origin of the DHS Spiritual Family: women religious, consecrated lay women and Associates (men and women). Today, the General Council opens a “Marie Balavenne Year” during which time, all the members of the “Family” are invited to come and learn from her how to better live in a spirit of adoration and service, everything that she has passed on to us, her “heirs”. A humble woman of Le Légué, sensitive to the distress of her time, attentive to the calls of the Holy Spirit, she put herself at the service of the poor, the sick, the children, together with Renée Burel, her companion. Quite soon, more women joined them and today the Congregation is present in 12 countries.

The joyful get-together enlivened the parking lots, the halls, the garden as of 10 am, and even the chapel which quite soon is packed and resounds with singing. A big banner applied to a column evokes Marie Balavenne, as Sister Anne Boivineau, artist and painter, viewed her: a country woman carrying a sheaf of corn in her hands…

Mgr Moutel, bishop of Daint Brieuc, presides over the assembly. In his homily, he commemorates both the life of Saint Joseph whose feast-day is today, 19 March, and that of Marie balavenne. They both lived an inner adventure marked by humility and by a love that transcends the law. If Joseph looked after God’s Son, Marie Balavenne, on her side, had at heart to see to the lot of children and destitute people, seeing Christ in them: “What you did to the least of mine, you did it to me”. Both opened up a path of slow and trustful discernment in listening to the Holy Spirit. The final hymn gives the key meaning of the day: “Let’s share the hope of those who yearn for justice, those who thirst for light, the ones who are deprived of tenderness … let’s open our hearts to confidence … let’s open up paths of hope wherein God resides, in today’s world.

Reactions at the end of the Eucharist highlighted different moments of the celebration:  " * I loved to hear the readings in the three languages in use in the Congregation. * I have been deeply moved when I saw the books which sustain the pathway of the sisters, of the consecrated lay women, of the Associates being brought to the altar, before the bread and the wine: this unites all those who choose to live “in the footpaths of Marie Balavenne”. * On the banner, we could see many women from different countries, simple and true! * I will keep in mind a word from the Superior General: to joyfully witness to the love which transforms the world. * A year which is going to be prolonged up to the 2017 summer, it is not too long to better live her message! * A good idea to give a banner to those in leadership in every country! And this as well for the “Family”! * I enjoyed hearing the hymn to the Holy Spirit in latin - Veni Creator-. I have got a better understanding of the life of the sisters. I was impressed to notice that all knew it by heart!”

A festive meal gathered 250 persons or so, in a warm atmosphere marked by the presence of people representing the different cultures of the countries in which we are inserted. Calm and quietness will come back in the large “Mother House”. Each participant will keep in mind a face, an encounter, a gesture, a song… and above all, a living message of faith and joyous loving relationship.

At Saint Brieuc and in the surroundings, “Marie Balavenne” evokes a well-known professional high school… and in the different countries where the Congregation has scattered, associations, educational schools, guest-houses, healthcare centers have put themselves under this same patronage. May a year of blessing radiate over all these works!

But what about the one we are blessing day? She must think: “All this in honor of my birth?" Indeed, yes, “A happy birthday, to you Marie Balavenne! Help us bring to fruition what you have sown in the soil of Le Légué in Saint Brieuc". 

Marie-France Cavaloc, DHS. Email popup Published on 21/03/2016

Filles du Saint-Esprit 15 bd. Sebastopol 35101 Rennes Cedex 2 France

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