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It is already a week since the inauguration ceremony and blessing of the renovated house at St Rambert. I’d like to share something of the day with you as a thank you for all the well wishes so many of you sent – assuring us of your presence in thought and prayer.
It was a wet day – a sign of benediction in many cultures though I’m not sure France is one of those cultures ! Around 60 of us gathered in the dining room for an hour’s worth of speeches. Jo was the first up and surprised us with a few sentences in French. Marie Bénédicte told the assembly of the ceremony being held at Nelson for the unveiling of Maureen’s name on the RNDM tombstone that same weekend and it was the mayor himself who made reference to Father Garin, native of St Rambert, Marist missionary to New Zealand in the 19th century and buried in Nelson.
The actual inauguration moment was to be the unveiling of the new plaque featuring the logo of the Abbaye which is at the entrance to the property but the rain meant that a red ribbon was cut by Jo, myself and the Mayor of St Rambert at the front door. The childeren were especially taken with this exercise and many pieces of red ribbon found their way to many in the assistance.
A priest from Ambérieu, representing the Bishop, did the blessing for us. That too was held inside with a liturgy prepared by the St Rambert community though Father did manage to walk the length of the two buildings outside to bless the exterior ! Then it was time for the guests to visit the newly- renovated house while we prepared the dining room for the buffet lunch.
Most of the buffet lunch was prepared by Sr Kim Yen and her willing group of kitchen volunteers. Others among us were more than ready to sit and enjoy the fruits of their labours ! It was especially heartening to see so many Eurasians and their partners return for the inauguration and blessing, some of whom were among the first group brought to the Abbaye from Vietnam in 1949, under the responsibility of Sr Marie Jeanne d’Arc, herself a native of St Rambert.
We were very happy to have Sunday Mass in our chapel on Saturday evening – so to begin our remembering of and thanksgiving for Maureen. Later that evening we RNDMs gathered to enjoy time together sharing memories of Maureen as well as a wee drink in her honour ! The Sunday morning mass in the parish was offered for Maureen and then in the afternoon we went down to the cemetry which as many of you know is very close to the Abbaye. Marie Bénédicte wanted a song in Maori to begin our prayer so Jo sang ‘Mo Maria’ as I hummed in the background ! A candle and incense accompanied our prayer and fresh flowers were put on the grave. We also remembered in gratitude the three other sisters ( one of whom is Sr Marie jeanne d’Arc) buried in the same grave with Maureen.
A very big thank you to Jo, Lissy, Liz Hartigan and Carmel Looby for joining us in person for this celebration ; to you all united with us in prayer and thought, a very big thank you also. We pray that many more of you will have the chance to come to St Rambert over the next few years and enjoy this place of calm and beauty. In doing so you will continue to add to the RNDM spirit which animates the Abbaye.
God of hope and promise, be with us throughout this Advent season and draw us ever closer as we journey together toward the stable and the birth of your Son, our Saviour.
Happy Adventing! Patricia