International Council1 march 2012
Our most recent meeting was held in Wépion, Belgium, from the 20th to 24th February. I wanted this meeting – which brought together the international coordinator, the 11 vice international coordinators, the international chaplain and the secretary-general – to be an occasion where each person’s bonds with this team were strengthened, to make each person aware of the joys and the suffering experienced in the 50 provinces, to all share in the life of our movement together.
I will not leave you alone!
Since the beginning of time, God has wanted to make a “covenant”, to not leave mankind alone to face his frailties, his weaknesses or his lacks of hope. This was the promise made to Adam, to Noah, to Abraham…this was the promise made by Jesus to the apostles at the last Supper: “I will not leave you as orphans” (John 14:18).
Faith and Light enters into the framework of this promise, as mirrored by the title of the book by Marie-Hélène Mathieu (“No longer alone”): in our operation, coordinators are not alone, they all have a coordination team with them, in the communities, in the provinces and internationally. As distance has to be considered, the international coordination team only meets once a year! Our most recent meeting was held in Wépion, Belgium, from the 20th to 24th February.
I wanted this meeting – which brought together the international coordinator, the 11 vice international coordinators, the international chaplain and the secretary-general – to be an occasion where each person’s bonds with this team were strengthened, to make each person aware of the joys and the suffering experienced in the 50 provinces, to all share in the life of our movement together. I have experienced the realities in the provinces and communities at first-hand – beautiful things, but some also less beautiful. I physically felt the weight of the responsibility of coordination, and I am glad that we are all in a team so that we can carry this responsibility together!
• We have shared many joys through the pilgrimages that have been following on from one another for a year now, and that will continue in 2012, with energy from many provinces! We also had the opportunity of meeting with the equivalent team from L’Arche International, with whom we were able to have discussions, share ideas and a joint session, during which we found it easier to identify how we were similar rather than how we differed!
• We have also shared much suffering: the difficult situation of the communities in the Middle East, communities that have grown old and disappear, communities lacking young people or chaplains…
• We have identified several topics on which we should start discussions: ecumenism, the development of Faith and Light style communities in other religions, how to make ourselves attractive to young families and young friends…
We have found two wonderful ways of giving substance to all this, for a better way of sharing ideas within the team:
• The meeting started with a Eucharist, at the beginning of which we made our “weather report”: this allowed us to place everything we had on our minds into the hands of Jesus before the meeting started.
• After the reports of life in the provinces, we washed our feet as a real sign that what we have been called to do is a service. In addition, each person, after having his/her feet washed, issued a prayer intention from the accompanied provinces to the person who had kneeled in front of him/her. This intention was formulated following the pattern of a prayer by Saint Faustine: “Most merciful Jesus, I ask you, by intercession of your saints, and above all by your most loving mother, to bless… Jesus, look upon the tears of those who are small and weak, they have so much need of our prayer.”
I am sure that everyone left happy about having discussed the real situation of Faith and Light in the world. For my part, I was very happy to see how much everyone in this coordination team – vice-coordinators, chaplain and secretary – contributed actively and positively, with lots of energy, lots of commitment and lots of initiatives! I feel supported by this real friendship, by the fact that everyone is concerned about growing community life throughout the whole world! I would therefore not hesitate to say how proud I am to be a part of this team! Not everything is easy, but with many people, everything seems simpler!
Ghislain du Chéné