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Greetings from France (St. Rambert) the land of our mother foundress with rich traditions and a country which has provided many saints to the Church. The renewal program began on 24 April 2019 in St Rambert with eighteen participants who hail from nine provinces and South Sudan.
Sisters were very kind to meet us at the airport and sisters Josephine Kane, Lucy Wambui, Patricia Boyd and community sisters warmly welcomed us. We were initiated into the program with a meaningful liturgy prepared by sisters Josephine Kane and Lucy, we walked in procession carrying Trinity, Globe, Euphrasie, constitutions, Bible and candle.
Sister Patricia, the Province leader of France, in her welcome address expressed her joy of meeting so many RNDM sisters from different parts of our world. The next day Sr Lucy took the floor with the theme “A pilgrimage to our roots” with her PowerPoint presentation and thought provoking questions and group discussions. She led us to reflect our own journey of life and a brief presentation on Euphrasie’s life helped us to go back to our RNDM roots. We were constantly reminded that we are pilgrims and to be a pilgrim is to be willing to live with the mystery of what will happen both interiorly and exteriorly and for this we need to hold the hand of our God and hand of one another.
Sister Jo began her session with a challenging question “what sets your hearts on fire” and it helped us to reflect on our priorities in life. She explained the four seasons of nature: spring, summer, autumn and winter with its strengths and shadows and invited us to look into our own seasons of life. To our surprise we found that the countless blessings in our life we received and the areas that we need to surrender to God. We were constantly reminded to be aware of ourselves.
Sr Crescencia helped us to revisit the chapter documents and Laudato Si for care of creation. The video presentation on formation of soil surprised us to see that soil has life and its role to sustain the whole creation. The illegal mining of land is a visible sign of the destruction of creation. We were given many opportunities to go out to the nature and to listen to her whispering. For our practical lesson, we were given two pumpkin seeds each to plant and we are eagerly waiting to come back to harvest the pumpkins. She also enlightened us on leadership skills and reminded us, we are all leaders in our own mission areas.
Our long cherished dream realized on 4th May with the visit to Caen. Sr Patricia introduced us to Caen the previous evening and gave us the leaflet with the pictures and explanations of the places we would visit in Caen. We were counting the days to visit Caen, Euphrasie‘s birth place. We were all excited and reached the bus stand before time. On the way to Caen we were captivated by the beauty of nature. We reached the monastery by the evening and the Benedictine sisters were happy to welcome us. The next morning, our guide Sr. Patricia, took us to the church of St Giles where Euphrasie was baptized. This church was destroyed during the Second World War but we were happy to stand on its grounds. We then visited the Trinity church where she would have often attended Mass and St Pierre’s church where she received her first holy communion and her missionary call. We continued to visit her various childhood places and the climax of our visit was at her grand mothers’ place Louvigny, 5 Kms South West of Caen. Throughout the day the presence of Euphrasie was very much alive among us. Euphrasie wanted us to enjoy the day so God blessed us with very good weather and the memory of it will last forever.
Sister Lucy explored with us some of the women in the old and New Testament who played great roles in the church even though they were not always acknowledged in the history of our church. After looking at the visitation of Elizabeth and Mary, we were challenged to reflect on how we could be women of visitation in our communities and ministries. As we reflected and shared on the contemporary prophetic women, we watched the movie “The Lady” which is based on the life of “Aung San Su Kyi”. It was very inspiring to all of us and challenged many aspects of our lives. With no doubt, she is a role model of courage and empowerment for women today. We recognized that we women have to empower each other in our country and mission.
We reflected on the book of Ruth in a creative way. In two groups, we acted out the entire book of Ruth. One group acted it out and another group showed puppet show, we all proved to be great actresses. At the end, we integrated the whole session and took home with us, that God’s loving hand is there in every pain and suffering. We had fun as we learnt together and the book of Ruth will be ever remembered, Sr Lucy always kept us active and alive with her timely jokes and laughter.
We are grateful to God, CLT and PLT for providing us with this great opportunity to make a Pilgrimage to our roots. We are thankful to our communities for taking up extra responsibilities and to freeing us for this precious time. We are privileged to have St Rambert community sisters to take care of all our needs with so much love, care and concern, their life and presence are an inspiration for each one of us.
Rndm renewal group