ABOUT US Marie Balavenne Year March 2016 August 2017

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EIW Family Assembly

September 3rd 2016 - Birmingham. Nearly 70 Sister and associates gathered in the Redemptorist Abbey Hall in Erdington. This was our special Family Assembly to celebrate the year of Marie Balavenne. We travelled from Ireland, Wales all parts of England and even from France.

Our two Secular branch members were with us in spirit as they were in the USA at the International Assembly of the Secular Branch. They sent a card and message and a promise of prayers for this special day.

In her opening welcome Sister Regina spoke of this gathering as a key moment in the celebration of the year of Marie Balavenne. She stressed that this was an opportunity to spend time with each other and to share how we live our Charism in our daily lives. It was a time to strengthen the unity among us and allow ourselves, like Marie Balavenne and Renee Burel, to be filled with the daring that comes from the Spirit. In the words of Pope Francis:” let us work together, wherever we are, whatever we do to build a civilization of love, a culture of encounter.”

A warm welcome was extended to our three Associate candidates, Rosemary Wright from Aberystwyth, Rosemary Earle and Glenmore Bowen from the Northampton group who made their commitment as associates in the presence of the whole assembly. It was a moving, prayerful moment - afterwards Rosemary Wright  said, “I understand now how I am part of a large and loving family and shall always be grateful”

Sister Regina then welcomed and introduced Sister Yvette Le Grand who was our guest speaker for the day. Sister Yvette shared with us her insights into the life and personality of Marie Balavenne. “How could Marie Balavenne have imagined that, 350 years after her birth, we could be gathered here, as her Spiritual Family, all eager to grasp her message for our time?” Setting Marie Balavenne’s life in the social history of her day, Yvette brought to life the simplicity and poverty lived by a woman open to the Spirit. She showed how Marie, living in this poverty and experiencing in her life the loss of mother, child and husband, still answered the call to care for the sick, the poor and the children in her locality. Yvette spoke of the Spirit watching over Marie Balavenne’s journey and the presence of Don Jean Leuduger and Renee Burel who came into her life providing her with the spiritual guidance and fraternal help she needed to fulfil her mission. Yvette shared with us a brief history of the Congregation and quoted from the Rule of Taden underlining the words “they must be filled with love” She finished with these words: “We too have to be filled with love... when we are offered something of high value, isn’t it in receiving the gift wholeheartedly, joyously that we honour the giver?... Opening our hearts, our hands, our whole being, to receive with gratitude from the Source the pure gift of Love, so as to be made capable of loving? That is the path which Marie Balavenne has opened up to each one of us, to all of us together as her Spiritual Family. Let this year dedicated to her be the favourable time to savour afresh the taste of the Source and respond through concrete choices inspired by her life.”

We are deeply grateful to Yvette for sharing her insights and we were all profoundly touch by the depth and clarity of her talk clearly spoken from her heart. After a delicious lunch, during which we had the opportunity to admire a very special cake made for the occasion by an associate Madeleine Stocks from Aberystwyth, there was time for exchanges and renewal of friendships. During the afternoon we processed to the Abbey Jubilee Door of Mercy. Fr Gabriel Macguire gave us a most amusing and informative history of the beautiful and prayerful Church inherited by the Redemptorists from the Benedictines. As we prayed together it was a fitting end to a memorable day.

As one associate said,”We had a wonderful day and felt truly blessed. It was perfect to share with the Sisters and their grace filled the room.”

Ann Wright (associate) September 2016. Published on 13/09/2016

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

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