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It was summer… It is summer!
July 7th, 1959-2019. Daughters of the Holy Spirit's Mother-House in Saint Brieuc. France.
In July 1959, who remembers what took place? The Tancarville bridge which crosses the Seine in Normandy is inaugurated - Bahamontès wins the Tour of France…
In the church... that same summer, July 7th, 53 young women made their religious profession into the Congregation of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit. The event did not make the newspaper headlines! Nobody should be surprised that, for them, this date remains engraved on the memory and the heart.
Can you imagine this long procession of white silhouettes and black veils? Can you see them in the front ranks in the Chapel, a little stilted in their brand new pleated dresses, and so moved to have to pronounce alone, during the celebration: "I Sr X … I make the vow… in the Congregation..."
Act of free commitment, the joy of a total gift of self, but also, a leap of confidence! After two years of group living, training, they will be sent in mission they are unaware of, in an unknown community. In Brittany? Elsewhere? In a few hours, tomorrow...they will know where they stand. The presence of the families adds to the emotion but the sound of the organ supports the tremulous voices. "Blessed art thou, O Lord Almighty, God of our fathers!" The hymn of the three children had recently been harmonized by Father Métayer on a sound evocation of Veni Creator. Thereupon, the pillars vibrated in the full Chapel. "Praise You O Christ King of eternal glory!"
July 7th,2019. How fortunate, the 7th falls on a Sunday! The young women are 60 years older! We are still 23 present, a 24th is integrated, who made profession the same year in Briouze. A joyful reunion because we rarely had the opportunities to gather during these past 60 years! With a smile, every one of them realized that "the others have changed a little!".
The celebration was prepared by two neighbors of Saint Brieuc and from the surrounding communities. The organ resonates as it did yesterday. The emotion is great, to find ourselves on the first row once more of the Chapel which has changed since 1959 but where we already have lived so many events. From the very beginning, mention is made of the two sisters who were unable to travel, and those who also made their profession in 1959, in the USA and in England. It is also with great emotion that we hear one by one and recall the names of all the sisters who preceded us.
If we had had to choose the readings of the Thanksgiving Mass, we would have retained the one that offered the liturgy of the day: How fortunate to belong to the church, sent in mission! When one of us starts and animates the main-song, after the first reading- only infringement to the beautiful texts of the day, the assembly had no trouble answering: "Praise and eternal glory to you! Blessed are you Lord! Our hearts rejoice for you !".
Following the celebration, an apertif was offered to the communities that accompanied a jubilee, then we shared between us a festive meal, with the Provincial and the Priest who presided over the assembly. It was a great moment of fraternity. "It is worth it, believe me, because we are, you and I, aboard the same boat!..."
A visit to the cemetery was a must to honor those of our profession who preceded us on the other side and rest in peace at the Mother House. Then, the 24 sisters, assembled in a grand room took the time to say what they wanted to share. A strong moment of listening to one another. We have measured that, even though our steps are heavier now, we are still united like we were 60 years ago and peacefully look towards the years that will be given to us to live.
This summer, summer of the promise, of enthusiasm and of obedience... And its the summer, summer of the best days of our lives... to give grace to the love shared.
Sister Marie-France Cavaloc. Published, July 10th, 2019.