ABOUT US Marie Balavenne Year March 2016 August 2017
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Our ‘sacred history.’ EIW
September 3rd 2016. A gathering of almost 70 members of our Spiritual Family, Sisters and Associates, assembled together at the Parish Hall of Erdington Abbey, Birmingham. It was a joyous, friendly and happy occasion as we greeted one another from various parts of England, Wales and Ireland. The hall was beautifully decorated with floral arrangements, the banner of Marie Balavenne and an artist’s impression of Le Legue and the House of Charity. This work of art has featured quite prominently in our Province gatherings, particularly this year.
Sister Regina welcomed everyone, especially Sister Yvette, our guest speaker, and spoke of this day as being another of the peak moments in this Year of Marie Balavenne. Ann Wright, the Director of Associates, introduced the three new Associates, Rosemary Earle, Rosemary Wright and Glenn Bowen who were making their first commitment at the assembly. Sister Anne Morris read a message from our two Secular Branch members, Ann and Anne, who could not be present as they were in the States for their own special gathering there. They had sent a card to assure us that they were with us in spirit and in prayer. We remembered too, Sister Elizabeth Mairouskou from our Cameroon Vice Province who was making her first profession that day.
As members of our Spiritual Family we were encouraged to get to know one another better, to encounter a person we did not know, to share an experience of living our charism and so strengthen the union among us.
Sister Yvette shared with us the fruits of her many years of dedication, study and research into the life of Marie Balavenne and her companions. Marie was a discreet, humble woman. 300 years ago, she could not have imagined the growth of the Congregation across the world today, of Sisters, Associates and Secular Branch. We have to acknowledge that we do not know much about her life but we do know from oral tradition and documents that she was a woman of God. What we treasure is a woman deeply entwined in the life and needs of her time. Some key moments in her life reveal something fresh for us today. Here Sister Yvette mentioned Marie’s birth at Le Legue, her childhood, her family, the death of her mother, her marriage to Guillaume Despons, the loss of her child, widowhood and eventually working in collaboration with Renee Burel and Jean Leuduger. We cannot separate Marie Balavenne from her companions. Jean Leuduger was a great scholar and missionary working tirelessly in the new movement of evangelisation of the Breton people. Marie was greatly indebted to him but without her the Congregation would not have become what it is today.
Sister Yvette paid tribute to Sister Anne Marie Davies, recently deceased, Sister Anne Marie Couloigner, and Sister Marie Torlay for their tireless efforts in research and in translating for us the rich treasures of our ‘sacred history.’
In the afternoon we made our way to the Abbey through the Jubilee Door of the Year of Mercy. Father Gabriel Macguire led us in an interesting journey through his own experiences as a Redemptorist priest and the history of the Abbey to the present day. He pointed out various items of historical interest and beauty to be seen in this pleasing, prayer filled church originally built by the Benedictine monks in the 19th century.
Madeleine Stocks, an Associate from Aberystwyth had created a most beautiful work of art in the form of a two layered cake with pictures around each side showing the House of Charity, Le Legue etc.. It was greatly admired and photographed. It seemed such a shame then to cut it up into slices which were presented to each of us on our way home. We were also given a special souvenir bookmark as a lasting reminder of this memorable day.
Patricia Purchase DHS - Published on 14/09/2016