ABOUT US Marie Balavenne Year March 2016 August 2017
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Marie Balavenne and Paris suburban youth.
The Bagneux parishes, in the 92nd Paris district, planned to introduce 11-12 year-olds to a way of living out Christian community life in organizing meetings within the church before the Sunday celebration every second week. Thirty-three students registered and took part in the meetings. During the first term, they examined a variety of subjects through biblical texts and came to discover a few great figures: St Francis in link with the local festival of Brotherhood, St Theresa of the Child Jesus with a view to making a pilgrimage to Lisieux, specially organized for them, St Genevieve on the occasion of a diocesan prayer in the parish. So why not Marie Balavenne? The challenge was taken up!
A slide show proposed by the “Young Vocations” group of the French Province was presented and viewed by all the youth of diverse multicultural origins. How were they going to react? After a minute of silence, we realized that they had been impressed by the history… The text underlined the fact that Marie Balavenne could not read or write, that she had never been schooled, that she had to work in the fields like most country children in that period of time. When mention was made of Marie willing to write her testament, one of the children exclaimed: “How will she be able to write her will as she could not read or write?" A quite judicious remark revealing that they had really been taken in by the history of Marie Balavenne and her sisters. After viewing the slide show, they were handed out a leaflet about Marie Balavenne’s life, a leaflet related to the slide show. “But it’s the same history! This is what we have just viewed!” The time had come for Juliette to answer: “Yes indeed, this is the same history but it is history lived out today. It shows present-day pictures. Both Françoise and me belong to this large Family”.
Here are some of the expressions we have collected when rereading the event with them a few days later: - “This has made us realize how a lot of country children used to live at the period in Brittany: they did not go to school, they had to work from an early age, they had a hard way of living… - Marie Balavenne did not know how to read or write, but she taught them as much as she could: knitting, taking care of the others. - She was open-handed and could see what was going on around her: there was a lot of misery, in those days. She continued to do right to the end what she had started: to educate the children, take care of the others. She liked to pray. - We would like to know more about her… "
The animators enjoyed the slide show as much as the youth and with them came to have an idea of the beginnings of our Congregation.
Juliette and Françoise DHS – Published on the 17/01/2017