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Returning to the Sources

Echoes from an International Conference

During the Summer 2011, about 30 Sisters of Marie Auxiliatrice with the Congregational Leader and her Council, came together in France to mark the 30th anniversary of the new Constitutions of 1981. A nourishing and energising return to the wellspring of the Congregation.

We were nine different nationalities living in nine countries spread over four continents. Signs and gestures and a simple lexicon facilitated informal sharing and discussion, while the simultaneous translations in Japanese, French and English allowed all the participants to hear the conferences and feedback from the groups in a language they could understand.

the participants of the session in Epernon

Unusually there was no photo of our Foundress, Blessed Marie Therese de Soubiran, in the meeting room but on the first day we were challenged by something our facilitator said: "Each one of you here today is the real face of Blessed Marie Therese ".

We were invited to return to the founding event of the Congregation (the fire that destroyed the first home of the new community) and to reread the history of our foundation texts, the Constitutions of 1866. We were helped to do this by one of our own sisters, Genevieve Perret, who shared the fruits of her meticulous historical research into the origins of the Constitutions and their history from 1866 up to the present day.

We grappled with Marie Therese’s conviction, which she passed on to us, that Eucharistic adoration is not an absolute but "an absolute necessity" for us, as the essential means and support for our ministry which is nothing other than our participation in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. What does this mean for us today? Through some powerful input presented by our Japanese facilitator, we contemplated the world in which we are called to serve the cause of justice, peace and harmony, sharing the vision of all those who believe that a different world is possible and who invest all their energies into making this vision a reality.

In the course of this journey and as we listened to each other, we heard the call to accept the reality of our poverty and insecurity as a means of sharing something of the reality of the poor and powerless in our society.

As we revisited the event of the fire and explored its relevance for us today, we were strengthend in our conviction that new life can come out of our poverty if, like our Foundress, we listen to the voice of the Spirit and if God is at the centre of our lives.

Smouldering embers can always flame out into new life and energy!