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You are here:Home / Family News / NEF 2013 / Family News - 2013 December 14th / Life of the Congregation
Dec 13, 2013

Life of the Congregation

Assembly in Pau, 28 October 2013

During his visit to the French-Spanish Vicariate, Fr Gaspar invited the youngest religious still in pastoral activity to an assembly in Pau. We were about 20 in all invited to start a discernment on the future of the Vicariate.

For the moment our Vicariate is composed of international communities thanks to the presence of five young religious from other Vicariates. It has the responsibility of holy places and of an important heritage for the Congregation. We are few in number living in the same structures.

To begin with we each replied to this question: “Bearing in mind my knowledge of the Vicariate and its life, what 2 suggestions do I make for the reorganisation of the Vicariate with realism for the next ten years?” After a time for personal reflection each one expressed his suggestions; this was followed by a synthesis of the suggestions and a debate.

- Reorganisation of the lives of the communities from the point of view of prayer, of community life with the laity, the parishes, other congregations, other institutes, together with the desire of accompanying the young people and vocation promotion.

- Suggestions for the reorganisation of communities, agreement among the religious beyond any support by outside experts.

Next we reflected on the reality of our situation with the help of 3 texts taken from Scripture (Ph 2,5-11), St Michael (Rule of Life 15) and Pope Francis (“genuine power lies in service; meditation for 21 May 2013). This was a time for narratio fidei. (See the texts here below)

We then heard a talk by M. Joan-Grange, leader of the committee appointed for the future of the patrimony at Betharram. He made a distinction between buildings to be improved, the sanctuaries, buildings to be enhanced at Montaut, the farm, Arcos house and non-constructed sites, and property for which there could be partners, the Calvary, the Care Home for the Fathers and senior residents, and the Beautiful Branch College. Ever since the expulsion of the religious, this property has been looked after by the “Association La Pyreneenne”. The question now is how the Congregation can recover the property, since from 2013 the religious are majority in the Association as well as on the Board. It was suggested to form a Financial Commission to advise the religious in caring for the property. This then is the question: How do we regard the future of this property and for what purpose?

After a friendly meal with the Pau Community we resumed our discussion with M. Joan-Grange. There were questions about the Community Notre Dame de Betharram (i.e. the monastery), the community which receives the religious of the Vicariate and the Congregation visiting Betharram, but also the small groups and pilgrims on their way to Compostella. The vocation of the sanctuary is for pilgrimages and a centre of Spirituality. As from the month of December this community will receive the Regional novitiate.

Finally each one was invited to make two concrete suggestions for the foreseeable future. Here is a summary of the pooling of ideas:

  • Pursue such meetings started in Pau.
  • Following the celebrations of the 150th anniversary develop a spirituality in our missions.
  • Revive the community in the Pays Basque which is the guardian of Ibarre and the Etchecopar House at Saint Palais.
  • Set up a Financial Commission, to include experts.
  • Pursue the pastoral care of the Youth.

Finally, we talked about planned restoration work to be carried out on St Michael’s house in Pau. This will demand a heavy investment. We also noticed that in the course of our discussions we hardly ever mentioned the College at Betharram. Partnership with the laity would deserve a fresh surge. We shall also have to keep an eye on the links between this type of Assembly and the General Assembly of the Vicariate as well as with the Council of Vicariate and the Regional Council.

Jean-Marie Ruspil, scj

Texts for the assembly:

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