AJA The Lay Friends of Jeanne-Antide
A bit of history
They form part of the spiritual family of the Sisters of Charity of St. Jeanne Antide, whose roots are embedded in the Vincentian spirituality.
In the 80’s, some lay people in the USA and in Lebanon ask to know the charism better. They commit themselves to deepen their faith and to live charity towards the poor.
In Italy, France and Switzerland, some small groups desire to share the mission of the congregation, because in one way or another the persons feel challenged.
The sisters in charge of the movement meet in Rome “Journeying with the laity”. This journey challenges the sisters to open up with trust and hope to a new mentality.
The Sisters’ General Chapter puts the question “What kind of relationship do we want to establish between us and the laity in our future journey?”
During the first intentional meeting of JAF held in Rome, under the guidance of Mgr Daloz, archbishop of Besancon, a Founding Text of JAF is prepared.
An International committee becomes active. In the meantime one starts to identify the modalities to foster an always bigger sharing among all the groups: a common journey of spiritual deepening is suggested which encourages communion in diversity and in the spirit of Jeanne Antide.
From different Countries across the globe, ten lay Friends of JA are invited to participate for some days in the work of the General Chapter, and to present to the chapter assembly the summaries of the preparatory work of all the groups of JAF worldwide in view of the General Chapter. That Chapter calls sisters and laity to be always more close to the small, to the voiceless, to the socially excluded and therefore to renew our way of living the diaconia, within a spirituality of service embedded in history. The Global Objective of the General Chapter, following that of Chapter 2005, calls everyone, sisters and laity: “We, together with the laity, want to contribute to sow seeds of a humanity which is simple, fraternal and in solidarity”.
The International Steering Group of JAF is established. Their task is to elaborate a path of formation common to all the Groups worldwide and to facilitate communication and information.
The “Friends of St. Martha”, in view of the fusion among the Sisters of St. Martha and the Sisters of Charity, initiate a journey to become acquainted with the charism and the groups of the Friends of Jeanne Antide. The fusion of the two Congregations is celebrated in Périgueux, on the 23rd April 2014.
During the General Chapter, the lay Friends of JA share some suggestions that emerged from their work together that lasted a whole week:
- give life to a more structured organisation to the movement of lay Friends of JA.
- organise an International encounter for the lay Friends of JA.
- proceed with the formation, especially for the representatives of the local groups
- intensify the communion between the various groups
- maintain alive the collaboration and the communion between laity and sisters.
- collaborate actively with the Thouret Foundation.
The representatives, laity and sisters of 15 groups, hailing from the four continents are summoned to Rome for an International Meeting, entitled “Called to … sent for …”
The local groups are still active today in Europe: France, Italy, Malta, England, Romania; in the Middle East: Egypt, Syria, Lebanon; in Asia: Pakistan, India, Indonesia; in Latin America: Paraguay and Argentine; in Africa: RCA, Cameroon, Chad, South Sudan.
The groups participate, deepen and live the charism in different ways according to the groups and according to the places: the groups meet to pray or to deepen the life and the charism of Jeanne Antide. Occasionally they accomplish actions of solidarity and voluntary work in an organised manner.
Yes, there is diversity … but they treasure the desire and the choice to live in their daily life the spirituality of St. Jeanne Antide, not only for themselves, but in order to help in the growth of society, wherever we are present. To work in the world and in society with due respect at the service of the poor, today.
The integration of the groups of Friends of JA in the local Churches, enriches the visage of the Church according to the Lord’s desire, and through the communion of the charisms, even the Friends receive continuously new input.