ABOUT US Marie Balavenne Year March 2016 August 2017

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Ile Blanche, 15 August 2017 - Marie Balavenne Year? Continuing…

One year? Yes and even longer as it was on the 19 March 2016 that the solemn opening of the Marie Balavenne Year took place. *

15 August! The day we had been expecting for such a long time, which we had prepared wherever we were! As of the daybreak, cars started to arrive all converging towards Ile Blanche- in Locquirec, Britanny- House of welcome, dear to the Congregation, a wonderful site which had been chosen for the gathering. On arriving, the travelers were welcomed by a joyous group of men and women waving scarves and displaying words of welcome.

A multi-colored day. In the meadow bordered with trees, a large platform had been set up for the celebration, on it the temporary altar draped in blue of the same fabric as the Nigerian sisters’ costumes. The green and the sea offering the fitting setting together with the river Douron -running along the property- which started to be filled with the rising tide, turning the meadow into a peninsula. The musicians were already comfortably settled, the animators getting more and more active. A big barnum might have sheltered both from the heat or from the rain but all of a sudden, the clouds gave way to the sun, most opportune for the meetings, exchanges, hugging and shouts of joy. The members of the “Family” who had come from Africa and Latin America added a new element through their colored costumes. A lot of chairs had been set out but many participants, as advised to do so, had brought their own stools thus adding a few more colored spots.

A day of joyous thanksgiving. Many priests and deacons had settled down. The Eucharist, simple and beautiful, was presided over by Mgr Dognin, Bishop of Quimper and Léon. Everybody appreciated his presence as being that of a shepherd, his fraternal interest having led him to remain among us the whole day. In his homily, he spoke of both the place of Mary whose feast-day the Church was celebrating and that of Marie Balavenne. For African men and women, there is no celebration without dancing and singing and everyone joyfully accompanied the rhymed processions with tambourines while singing Maria, Maria é é é… All faces radiated with the joy both of the encounter and of the happy memories of the year which had just gone by.

A day of international fraternity. This 15 August feast-day was followed up by an international Family meeting that brought together members of the Three Branches (Religious women, Consecrated Seculars, Associates) as delegates coming from all the countries in which we are. The picnic gave us the opportunity to cheerfully meet and exchange. At the beginning of the afternoon, time was given to either prolong the sharing or to disperse and discover Ile Blanche, admire the landscape, watch videos, sing and dance. The time as well to visit the “Marché solidaire” space, to admire and buy home-made objects, products coming from everywhere!

A time of relaxation could be enjoyed while watching the sketch showing Marie Balavenne, Renée Burel and other people of importance for us -Jean Leuduger, Gui de Montpellier, Charlotte Delaunay- often evoked in the Congregation, and who, on that very day,  had come down from heaven! Later on, everyone to applaud when seeing the huge birthday cake prepared by the cooks of Ile Blanche, quickly served by a host of voluntary helpers, together with a fizzy drink! A moment of intense elation!

A day for sending on mission. After a time of relaxation, a time for the sending on mission. At the backdrop:  white doves hanging from branches looked as if they were trying to fly away under the shrieks of seagulls intrigued, so it seemed, by the presence of these intruders.

As of our arrival, each of us had felt challenged by a large triangular panel, on the right side of the altar: “Led by the Spirit, witnessing together of the love which transforms the world”.  Sr Anne Marie Foucher, superior general, reminded us that this was not a conclusion. But in direct continuity with Marie Balavenne’s intuition, lay consecrated women and Associates still today felt called to be sent on mission.

This continuity could be strongly felt through the sending on mission of four sisters: a Cameroonion, a French woman, and a Burkinabe who, with a French Sister already living there, would constitute a community in Peru and a Nigerian sent to Ile Blanche. The dance of Kenia, a Chilian sister, welcoming in her vice-province an international community, spoke volumes: a strong living breath, a cry of hope in the day to day living. Like in Marie Balavenne’s days, the means are so few in the face of the calls. Is not the Spirit motion, breath, a wind which blows out into the open?

“The same Spirit who gathers us is also the One who sends us”, our Rule of life says. A symbol of it was given through the gift of a rose to those in charge of the seven Units of the Congregation, of the consecrated lay women and the Associates in all the countries where we are. A rose offered by its “editeur” to the DHS Family. A rose called Marie Balavenne! We could leave with a flower, a color, a scent…  to love and "all together to be witnesses of the love which transforms the world”.

Sr Marie France Cavaloc – Published on 19/08/2017

* Marie Balavenne, a humble woman of Le Légué- a harbor next to Saint Brieuc- was born in 1666. Her life was marked by many a trial, particularly the death of her husband, a widower whose children she took charge of and the loss of the infant baby born of their union. With the support of Jean Leuduger, a priest of the diocese engaged in the Breton Missions, she devoted herself with her companion Renée Burel, to respond to the distress and needs of the people around them: uneducated children, poor sick people, abandoned old people. They saw in them the person of Jesus Christ and found, in their call to the Spirit of Love, at the heart of the Trinity, the creativity they needed to serve the least of the least in all possible ways. By vows, they consecrated their lives to God on 8 December 1706… Unaware that more women would come and join them, they founded a Congregation!

In the twelve countries where the Daughters of the Holy Spirit are today present and active, all the people who refer themselves to Marie Balavenne: consecrated lay women and Associates, from now on, form the “DHS Spiritual Family”. For over one year, all of them have taken the time to celebrate, to make known Marie Balavenne, foundress of the Congregation with Renée Burel, to invite friends to this 2017 festive meeting. They particularly have taken the time to get a better understanding of this history, to make their own the attitudes of faith, gentleness, of the loving, humble and ingenious service which characterized Marie Balavenne.


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

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