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Initial formation session - beginning of the academic year 2021 (France)

From the 7th to the 12th of September, as is customary, Initial Formation of France opened alongside the academic year with a session of a review of religious life for the brothers in initial formation:   three professed and one novice.

As in the previous year, the session took place in Graves (South of France) where the Congregation has been present for more than 150 years. It was an opportunity for a joyful reunion after the summer break, with the celebration of the return (and the belated birthday) of Brother Chadwick who spent the summer in his native Marquesas Islands.

This short week was punctuated by various interventions, notably that of the Superior General, Alberto Toutin, and the Provincial of France-Polynesia, Christian Flottes, by videoconference. The former proposed an overview of the Congregation's missionary work, as well as various points of reference characteristic of our spirituality to guide the revision of life. Some key questions from the chapter "Our Vocation and Mission" of the Constitutions provided food for thought in the afternoon. Christian Flottes gave a brief presentation on the situation regarding the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (ICSAE or "Sauvé Commission"), which gave rise to a wider exchange linking it to the realities of the Congregation and of formation.       

The main part of the session consisted of each brother in formation having time to share, in a structured and analytic way,  his past year. This was an opportunity to understand more deeply the dynamics, the questions and the subjects close to the heart of each one.

This younger assembly, with its various companions (Alphonse Fraboulet, Valent Ritan from the Province of Indonesia, Jean-Claude Lefranc) was enriched by a few other veterans: Martial Couderc, a member of the last community of Graves, who lives in the vicinity and continues to celebrate Masses in the community chapel, and Léon Lemouzy, who came straight from the Pacific for a holiday in his native region.   On 8 September, the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, we had the chance to celebrate with Léon, his 60th anniversary of profession, and he gave his life testimony during the Mass. All of us (except the novice David Léoutham!) during the celebration of the Eucharist, recited with Léon the formula of their religious profession nunder the watchful care of the Mother and the Son. 

The session ended with a devotional and cultural visit to Sainte-Foy-de-Conques, an abbey in honour of a famous martyr of the first centuries who died at the age of thirteen. You know the story: Sainte Foy inspired the testimony of Saint Caprais... who inspired the Good Father! Everything is linked. A premonstratensian father was kind enough to offer us an explanation of the famous Romanesque tympanum of Conques. It was a great opportunity for artistic and theological reflection and for establishing relationships with other religious families. It was with a heavy heart that everyone left Graves (and Martial!) on Sunday to continue the service of the Sacred Hearts a little further north...

Photo gallery at this link: https://cutt.ly/9W4NBMt