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"Picpus 2009", Session 5: July 17–19, 2009


    On Friday 17th July we began with prayer as usual. At the beginning of the assembly, Bernard thanks the brothers and sisters of Asia for their presentation the evening before, and stressed that in them we find the future of our ss.cc. charism. We entered a new stage of the Session, the objective of which is to see how we respond to the Love of God, manifested in Jesus. Our response in religious life must be marked by zeal and a spirit of reparation, themes which would be during these days by Julio Garcia ss.cc. (Andalucia) and Mercedes Bayo, ss.cc. (Spain). This morning, July made a re reading of the different aspects of the content of Article 4 of our Constitutions, and spoke about reparation. During the course of the afternoon, Mercedes stressed how the Eucharist and Adoration are the spaces to live reparation in daily life.

    At the end of the joy, during the Eucharist presided by Fr. Hervé Géniteau, the parish priest of the Immaculate Conception (Paris 12e) parish, which is part of the Picpus community, we remembered the sixteen Carmelites of Compiègne who died on the scaffold on the 17th July, 1794. In his homily, Fr. Géniteau pointed out that the martyred Carmelites reminds us of the road of fidelity to the Word of God, and that they intercede for us. “In the midst of tribulations, they remained faithful to Christ and to Life”. The celebration ended by a silent procession to the cemetery where sixteen candles were put on the grave where the Carmelites rest and, finally, we sang the Salve Regina.

     After supper, we said good bye to Richard McNally ss.cc. who returns to his services in Rome and to Monica Fuster, ss.cc. (Spain) who helped us during the week the translations. 


    Saturday, the 18th July will remain marked by the concrete options with which we respond to the Lord, and through article 15 of the Constitutions of the brothers. Eduardo Pérez-Cótapos, ss.cc. general counselor, presented some point to help us understand and live our religious life, catching a glimpse of new ways which are being opened up today: general considerations with regard to religious life, a reflection on the roots of consecrated life, a reflection on concrete consideration of the vows and finally a reflection in relation to the service of consecrated life. When Eduardo was explaining the “vows as a contra cultural dimension”, the Picpus fire alarm went off. Was it his enflamed message sounding out that set off the alarm?

     The work in groups and putting it in common in the assembly brought with it personal experiences of the Congregation. It was interesting and rich to share what religious life, through the vows, has already given to our personal belief. 

     The evening was consecrated to the presentation of the places where we are in Latin America. The sisters explained the reality of the Latin American Conference which is made up of the Provinces of Chile, Peru-Mexico-Brazil, Ecuator, Colombia and Paraguay-Bolivia. Sandro Mancilla, ss.cc. presented Chile and Argentina with the help of powerpoint which ended with homage being paid to Fr. Estebáb Gumucío, ss.cc. Osvaldo Gonçalves, ss.cc., was very happy to talk about Brazil, his Province, and in particular, the work of insertion where he works. The evening ended with Latin American songs and the distribution of a bag full of generous presents offered by our brothers and sisters of Latin America.


    On Sunday, 19th July, after prayer in the chapel, we went to the meeting room and Bernard began by thanking the Brothers and Sisters of Latin America for their presentation the night before which allowed us to discover the richness of our ss.cc. presence on this continent. Then Julio Garcia, ss.cc., developed the theme of zeal which must encourage our life and which is a key element of our charism. In the afternoon, Jeanne Cadiou, ss.cc., offered us something new in regard to the preceding sessions – two expositions on the theme of fraternal communion in community life and family life, as a concrete application of reparation, on the vows and on zeal.

   During the Sunday Eucharist which he presided, Eduardo Pérez-Cótapos expressed a wish: “that we are able to make of our life an offering for the life of others, to offer ourselves as victims for peace in the world and in the Congregation.
    The day ended with the presentation of communities and the ss.cc. mission in Belgian Méridonale, Flanders, Poland, Norway, Ireland-England, France, Spain, Andalusia, USA West and Africa. Marie-Josèphe Verrier, coordinator of the ss.cc. Secular Fraternity of France, spoke about the ss.cc. laity in France. The evening ended with a little glass of sweet wine, a present from the Africans, all while dancing to the music of a song dedicated to Damien, composed by a Congolese artist. At that moment we said goodbye to Eduardo who returns to Rome the following morning.