ABOUT US Marie Balavenne Year March 2016 August 2017
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The inauguration of this special year took place in Abergavenny, Wales, on 16 March, 2016. The Sisters and Associates as part of the DHS Family met together for reflection, prayer and celebration on this memorable occasion in the history of the Congregation. Our beautiful surroundings of hills, valleys and rivers, enhanced by the song of the birds, enabled us to feel very close to God’s creation.
The presence of three of the original Associates of the Province, now widows themselves, facilitated the picture of our origins, as we reflected on Marie Balavenne who trod the lanes and villages in Brittany bringing food to the poor of her neighbourhood, an act of charity that we ourselves are now continuing to do with the food banks needed to feed the poor in Britain, the fifth richest country in the world.
Marie Balavenne is for us today a woman open to the pressing needs of her times, burning with the love of God whom she encountered in the poor, the sick and the children. We have cause to be grateful for her example as the simple house of charity, which she founded, now radiates to the ends of the earth, and love gives itself more and still more, first in Brittany that ancient Celtic kingdom on the edge of Europe, a sister kingdom to those other Celtic kingdoms where the DHS charism has flourished, and which in ancient centuries gave birth to so many saints and scholars. She broke new ground when no one was expecting it, and in silence opened up a path for the Spirit today in three continents.
The centre-piece for our reflection had a portrait of Dom Jean Leuduger who with his great knowledge of the Holy Spirit, and his missionary zeal laid the foundations of our spirituality. A second artefact is a painting of “A Convent Garden” by William John Leech (1881 -1968) an Irish painter. it hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland, as a testimony to the White Sisters who nursed him in their hospital in Brittany when he caught typhoid during his visit there. Last but not least is the statue of Our Lady who is their “advocate with the Holy Spirit.” The event finished with the usual social celebration which is characteristic of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit.
Josephine Egan DHS, EIW Province, 19 March 2016. Published on 22/03.2016