On July 8, fifteen Sisters of St. Joseph began a pilgrimage to France. Sisters Diane Androvich, Eileen Brennan, Karen Burke, Margaret Biolsi, Maura Costello, Margaret Faherty, Suzanne Franck (group leader), Helen Roberta Hurley, Helen Kearney, Janet Kinney, Filippa Luciano, Alice McVey, Marge Miller, Linda Pero, and Susan Snyder journeyed to the founding places of our CSJ heritage. We gather the graces of these special days together. We think back to the many places, moments and events that have transpired …. And we remember ….
We first journeyed to Lyon, where we visited the mother house, its chapel, the CSJ “Jesse tree” and special heritage room with its many artifacts and treasures from our past. We also travelled to the cemetery where Mother St. John Fontbonne rests …. Our time there included a visit to the ancient Roman ruins of two amphitheaters that are still used today by local theatrical groups.
We then travelled to the places where Mother St. John Fontbonne and our sisters ministered, and were later imprisoned … Ministrol and St. Didier …. And then on to Bas En Basset, where Mother St. John Fontbonne was born and where she later stayed prior to her imprisonment.
From there we continued on to LePuy En Valey. The beauty of this small village, with its cobble stone streets, transfixed and delighted us. We met Sister Simone, who gave us a tour of ‘the kitchen’ and explained what life was most probably like for our first sisters. Sister Simone inspired us with her words, reminding us that we are merely God’s instruments, doing God’s work. We celebrated Sunday liturgy at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and many of us made the trek up to the statue of the Blessed Virgin which overlooks the city. Some attended the following morning liturgy with local parishioners at St. Laurent’s while ‘5 strong’ made the 264 step hike up Mt. Michel, atop of which is a chapel built on this volcanic rock. Some of us even took walks by the Bourne River, past camp grounds and community vegetable gardens. And yes, we visited the many lace shops, seeing how it was made, and bought our lace! Our time in LePuy ended with a visit to the International Centre where we prayed together and celebrated Flip’s birthday.
We moved on to Cluny and learned about the early roots of monasticism there. A short distance further from Cluny found us celebrating and participating in the contemplative noontime prayer with the monks of Taize and the hundreds of youth who journey to Taize each summer. We were struck by the hope and dynamism of these young people, who create a praying community during their stay – whether they choose to stay a few days or a few months. A lunch of simple fare prepared by its ‘temporary residents’ was shared together under large tents to protect us from the noonday heat.
And then on to the quaint city of Beaune, place of one of the earliest hospitals run by religious sisters, and some leisure time exploring its streets. Then finally to a whirlwind tour of Paris, visiting some of its special museums – Cluny and D’Orsay- and its churches – the chapel at St.Chapelle and the Cathedral of Notre Dame-Paris, finally ending with a river boat ride down the Seine, that gave a panoramic view of the many sites we had seen earlier in the day. All to be capped by one last group photograph at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. (Janet Kinney, Departure Prayer)
With much gratitude, we share some of our photos… (click on photo for larger size)