"Be missionaries of Joy"17 march 2014
Word of Jean Vanier to the international coordinating team on 28th February 2014.
The new international team meet at Trosly
It was very cold in the Pierrefonds church on that Thursday evening at 6pm! It was still February and it wasn’t really surprising to see that everyone gathered around the few spots where there was a bit of heating! What was most astonishing was that a few were wrapped up as if they were at the North Pole with anorak, scarf and woolly hat! Suffice to say, they were from the southern hemisphere and that the day before they had been basking in the summer sun! But when he removed his woolly hat, we recognised Judex, chilled to the bone! Judex lives in Beau Bassin on the island of Mauritius and he is one of the members of the international coordination team that was meeting for the first time since the Leeds international meeting in July 2013. This team has been renewed and there are five new vice international coordinators to complement the seven who have continued or who have been renewed.
Along with Agathe (from Paris, France), Fred (from Minneapolis, USA), Joanna (from Jaworzno, Poland), Lucia (from Fidenza, Italy), Ludovic (from Bordeaux, France), Maria-Silvia (from Saõ Paulo, Brazil) and Raúl (from Salamanca, Spain) ,there are now Amgad (from Mansourah, Egypt), Ann (from Rotherham, United Kingdom), Judex (from Beau Bassin, Mauritius), Kristina (from Vilnius, Lithuania) and Valerie (from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). A great team that also includes Father Isaac and Corinne.
As a theme, I chose: “the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul” (Ac 4, 32). Indeed, I would like us all, each and every one of us, despite the number, despite the distances that “separate” us most of the time, to:
- be at the service of the provinces and communities,
- aim to see Faith and Light shine throughout the world,
- and be ready to roll up our sleeves and be proactive.
Right at the start of our meeting, we welcomed Jean Vanier and Marie-Hélène Mathieu, who came to meet and encourage us! Jean spoke to us at length and opened up horizons towards which we should turn in order to go forward:
- Faith and Light is an extraordinary gift for our time, it is a great desire of God
- Faith and Light is a people of joy, hope and celebration. The communities should shine with our vision and our truth.
- We need to flourish by putting down roots, not in quantity. Let us return to our Charter
- Our message is so simple that we don’t see it: the joy and friendship of being together, the commitment, the others are gifts from God.
- We should be missionaries of joy and faith.
This time really was a blessing because all our work was illuminated by this guidance! We shared the joys, problems and hopes of all the provinces of the world!
We shared them during the washing of the feet celebration where each person, after having his/her feet washed, handed a prayer intention to the person who had just knelt before him/her. We really were a team with several intentions from everyone.
We identified the main projects to be launched on the basis of the feedback from the provinces, as well as the priorities voted for in Leeds; and small teams of two or three committed to each work on two topics (formation, accompaniment, cooperation with l’Arche, young people, identity and mission, spirituality, operation of the large provinces…).
We finalised the 2014 budget with regard to coordination and solidarity.
We also had some time for relaxation and togetherness: including being questioned by Agathe and Ludovic on our knowledge of Faith and Light … You can rest assured that we are not part of this team because of what we know about Faith and Light but through our spirit of service! We were also able to taste a few culinary specialities from the four corners of the world!
And we were astonished and saddened to see that it was already the end! The time had passed too quickly, we hadn’t had time to deal with everything we wanted to… we had to pack cases, get in the minibus hired by the secretariat and say goodbye to one another singing: “merci, gracias, thank you, grazie, obrigado, dziękuję, ačiū, شكرا, alléluia, amen! ”
Since my return from this meeting, I have been giving thanks! I am proud of this team, a real “dream team”! We truly had one heart and one soul and we are going to achieve extraordinary things for the greater good of the communities and for the glory of God!
Thank you to each of the vice coordinators, I know that I can count on you!
Thank you to Father Isaac, you accompany our team with much tact and kindness!
Thank you to the secretariat, to Corinne, Guénaël and Céline, you have greatly facilitated our work! It all went very smoothly, you are so invaluable!
Thank you to the translators who allowed our Tower of Babel to communicate effectively (French, English, Spanish and Polish)!
Ghislain du Chéné