ABOUT US Marie Balavenne Year March 2016 August 2017

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USA: Launching...

The long-awaited day finally arrived. April 22-24.  Delegates to the DHS USA Family Assembly gathered in the gymnatorium for their special weekend and Sr. Gertrude Lanouette, Provincial, made it official:  the year dedicated to the legacy of foundress Marie Balavenne had begun.

While a multitude of most meaningful activities filled each moment of these three weekend days, the highlight indeed was the liturgy on Saturday afternoon focused on the inauguration of this year in honor of the first Daughter of the Holy Spirit whose example has inspired thousands of followers since 1706.

Marie’s legacy was underlined in a unique manner that same evening when all in attendance were blessed with “A Visit from Marie Balavenne”, brought to life on stage through a brilliantly written monologue by DHS Associate Pat Krodel and delivered flawlessly by Ms. Bonnie Theriault. The script, a compilation and adaptation of several existing biographies and interpretations of the life of Marie, was prepared and executed in honor of the foundresses 350th birthday and her legacy to the now International Congregation.

This moment is so special to so many of us that we want to invite all of you to share the passion and the joy that is to be reaped from such a time.  We have prepared the following for your information, enjoyment and inspiration.  We trust you will take the time to read and reread and to meditate on this wonderful example of the Holy Spirit at work in one individual and the domino effect and impact of the resulting graces as they trickled down through the centuries to fill and inspire us today and into the future.

We thank Sr. Marian St. Marie for penning these thoughts for all of us to share.  You may feel free to direct any questions or comments to Email popup - Published on 27/04/2016

YEAR OF MARIE BALAVENNE. 2016-2017.                      

"We must remember our beginnings, The humble people who, one day, did quite simply. What their heart told them had to be done then. They could not have known what was to happen.  History is nourished by ordinary love.  (The Hidden Source" - Sr Madeleine Le Saux)

This year of 2016 – 2017 is one of celebration for Daughters of the Holy Spirit throughout the world as we commemorate the 350th birthday of our foundress, Marie Balavenne.  There are a number of ways to describe Marie.

Woman of her time. Marie Balavenne grew up on a farm in 17th century rural Brittany where she learned the same skills as other young girls of the region such as farming and spinning yarn.  Life was frequently hard. Serious economic difficulties plagued France causing poverty, famine, and malnutrition. In 1692 Marie married a widower with 6 children, however, he died 5 years later leaving her to raise his children.  She herself, had lost a child in infancy.

Woman of prayer, adoration, and service.  In the Breton church of the time there was a Jesuit inspired movement called the Breton Missions. This consisted of a group of priests who traveled about conducting missions in the parishes of Brittany. The missions in turn, encouraged the formation of a number of lay groups such as Confraternities and Third Orders who also contributed to spreading the love of God.  Marie Balavenne fit into this atmosphere. She was a prayerful woman who was always attentive to the needs of people around her.  A local priest, Dom Jean Leuduger, an active member of the Breton Missions, influenced and encouraged her.

Woman open to the pressing needs of the times. Marie saw what the needs were and therefore, taught children their prayers and basic catechism. She also visited the sick and brought them comfort.  Eventually a young woman, Renee Burel joined Marie in carrying out this work.

Woman free of heart; noble-hearted. The needs in the region were great. Dom Jean and the 2 women set up the first Charity School in Plerin. It was with these 3 dedicated people that we find the roots of the Congregation.  Within a relatively short period of time, Marie and Renee realized that they wished to go further in their dedication to God. Thus on December 8, 1706, Marie Balavenne and Renee Burel “pledged to live together and to devote themselves indissociably to the service of Christ and of the poor.” (Marie-Pierre Torlay) By 1710 they had been joined by 2 other women. The little group continued to grow and spread throughout Brittany under the leadership of Marie Balavenne.

Woman of god. After a long full life, Marie Balavenne died on December 23, 1743. Her life had been lived as a “humble woman in whom the boldness of the Spirit dwelt.” (RV 1)

“Nobody noticed her, or her simple greatness. She broke the ground where nobody was expecting it and,  in silence opened up a path for the Spirit…” (The Hidden Source  -  Sr Madeleine Le Saux)


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