“Are you all sisters of charity?” asked a parishioner at the exit of the church of Saint Martin in Sancey after Sunday Mass, pointing to two sisters dressed one in beige and the other in grey and white. To our affirmative answer with small explanations, the lady exclaimed “I think it is beautiful to come to our village to discover our holy Franc-Comte and our traditions. It inflates my lungs!”
Indeed, the wonder of this lady echoes ours and her amazement reflects the feelings of the 21 participating sisters, who arrived in Sancey from the 4 continents, and several nationalities: Argentina, Cameroon, Egypt France, Italy, India, Chad, Laos, Lebanon, Pakistan and Vietnam. All of them have sullied the desire to deepen the Charism.
During the introductory session that took place on June 29th, 2022, Sr. Christine Walczak and Sr. Paola Arosio (coordinators of the School of Charism) presented the purpose of this month of formation in these terms: “To allow the sisters of various territorial realities to deepen the Charism, to better know the life of JA, the historical and ecclesial background in which she lived, to help us link with the life of today’s world and the life of communities in various contexts”.
Five weeks in Sancey!
In this quiet village, we lived with our holy foundress, we shared her paternal home, we entered into the intimacy of her family, parish and social life. We walked on the trails where Jeanne Antide walked on foot herself. How great was our emotion in celebrating Mass in front of the cave-refuge of “La Baume” which sheltered priests and protected them from the attacks of anticlerical revolutionaries!
As the days went by, we discovered the rich legacy that our sisters have bequeathed to us since the time of the foundation, we refreshed our religious family belonging and drew great inspiration from the writings of our foundress. It is obvious that the charisma cannot to be crystallized, copied, or idealized.
In Sancey we deepened founding texts of the Congregation, the historical and ecclesial context in which our foundress lived, we grew in our belonging to God Alone in a universal fraternity, ready to “go to the end of the world, God willing”.
In Sancey, we experienced the joy of Pentecost in the universality of the church! We do not speak a common language; we communicate through the language of charity and it works! We understand each other and succeed in sharing our community and missionary experiences.
In Sancey, we realized that a young peasant woman has implanted the spirituality of Saint Vincent in Franche-Comté, teaching her first companions, the administrators and collaborators, that the poor are not a category to help but also a person to love.
In Sancey, we were challenged by the encouragement of Mother Maria-Rosa and her counselor Sr. Maria-Luisa to be responsible for the charism, to inculturate it in our realities, and know better the different foundations of the Congregation in our respective countries.
Our stay in Sancey is punctuated by significant discovery outings: we went to the “Fontenelles”, “Chez Nobis”, Besançon, Bellevaux, La Roche, Le Landeron… The most moving, however, was the pilgrimage to Einsiedeln! Following Jeanne-Antide on her way to exile, we deepened her writings, admired her deep motivation and absolute confidence in Providence, guessed her spiritual consolation at the sight of the monastery after her perilous journey of several weeks… With her, in front of the statue of the Black Madonna, we raised our thanksgiving for the benevolent goodness of the Lord and for the generous Yes of Jeanne-Antide.
Our journey in deepening the Charism does not stop on August 2nd! It continues throughout 2023. The second session will take place in Naples.