Before or after the Assembly, French CLC companions had the opportunity to welcome delegates from all over the world in their homes for a few hours or days. These encounters left a lasting impression on them. Claire, Véronique, and Monique share their discoveries and the joys they experienced.
Claire, from the Loire-Océan CLC Region (around Nantes), welcomed Mexican delegates to her home a few days before the start of the Assembly. She celebrated St. Ignatius Day with them on July 31 in the presence of other companions who had come to join them. It was an opportunity to extend the tent of the encounter. She shares with us what she got out of this experience.
The World Assembly started very concretely when Patricia and Adriana, Mexican delegates, came to stay with me. They experienced the meeting in the simplicity of everyday life: a slow pace imposed by the fatigue of 48 hours’ travel, jet lag, and the need for rest to prepare for the Assembly. Exchanges were laborious, with the help of a translation app, but their hearts were open, and the exchanges were fraternal. This fraternal life became so much easier when Corinne, a Spanish-speaking companion from my region, joined us for 48 hours to help with the translation. Corinne had been very disappointed that she had not been selected as an interpreter for the Assembly, due to her short availability. These 48 hours were a wonderful way for her to experience the World Assembly differently.
During a walk by the sea, I told them what I had become aware of 4 years earlier, I had asked for discernment help from my local community, which confirmed and nurtured a house project, with an important place for hospitality. And I suddenly realized that this was the first time I welcomed people in the guest room and shared my living space. And, I did so, by receiving companions from the other side of the world. This detail alone sums up the place of CLC community in my life.
July 31: 25 Loire-Océan CLC companions, from neighboring regions or on vacation, came to celebrate St. Ignatius with us at a Eucharist in our beautiful collegiate church, followed by a shared meal. As diverse members of the French community, we are impressed by the apostolic dynamism of our Mexican companions. They keep spiritual centers alive and welcome and support migrants in very concrete ways. The “apostolic frontiers” where CLC sends us, become concrete, and their questions make us aware of the richness of what we live when we share our charism during Open CLC evenings, and the proposals of the Ignatian Step in which we are very involved. This meeting, which was too short, created a strong bond and gave a face to the worldwide community, which often seems something very distant to us.
The presence of these companions from the other side of the world enabled us to experience the community in many dimensions: companions from neighboring regions, old CLC backpackers and people entering or leaving the discovery course, CLC France companions on vacation, Jesuits usually in connection with the MCC (Mouvement Chrétien des Cadres). We experienced in a more or less new way that the community goes far beyond our local or regional community. And the celebration of the Eucharist of Saint Ignatius, as part of a weekday parish celebration turned festive, in French and Spanish, made the other Christians present perceiving something of our spirituality. We even had a Dominican on vacation joining us!
At the Assembly, thanks to Paty and Adriana, I got to know the two men in the Mexican delegation, Jorge the Jesuit assistant, and Charthur, as well as their friends from North and South America. My service in Amiens during the World Assembly didn’t allow me to be in contact with the delegates, and it seemed important to leave them to their affairs. But thanks to Paty and Adriana, world CLC became concrete for me. I never wanted to ask them about what they were experiencing in the Assembly, because I felt it was important to respect a certain silence. When people take the time to experience an election retreat, it’s vital to respect God’s work in them without interfering. Like Moses at the burning bush, remove your shoes and don’t go near that sacred ground, so as not to disturb the discernment work that’s going on. So it was only episodically, that they sometimes helped me to perceive something of what was going on in the Assembly, I was happy to simply accept what they spontaneously shared with me.
Echoes from other companions who took part in welcoming Mexican companions or in the Saint Ignatius evening.
- For me, it was a great joy to live the “culture of encounter” in practice, by putting myself at the service of others. It was wonderful to feel my faith reached out to me so easily, across cultural and linguistic barriers, and to experience it as a communion. Experiencing the joy and simplicity of mutual acceptance and openness to others, their world, and their reality, decentered me and put the practice of my faith into perspective. I discovered that CLC in Mexico is a strong minority movement compared to the situation in France where Jesuit movements are sometimes viewed with suspicion/outrage (as being too progressive). I felt very lucky to have a local community on my doorstep, so to speak, and a large community with a positive welcome in the parishes and in the Catholic world in general. Corinne
- What touched me the most was to hear these two women talk about their difficult context, a community that has greatly diminished in numbers, and which remains standing despite this context. I was touched by their various commitments to humanitarian causes: here in France, there are community commitments, but much less than them. They’re really integrated into networks, and they have a lot of visibility. Roseline
- As none of us were able to come to Amiens, it gave us a feeling of the World Assembly. We were very touched by what they shared about their numbers and the way they operate, in realities other than our own, but well-rooted. We discovered a far away country whose realities we hadn’t even been aware of. It allowed us to think of them, to tell ourselves “They’re in Amiens”, and this encounter gave us the impression of sharing a little of what we were experiencing: we’re in the same community. Françoise
Monique, from the Som’Oise CLC Region (north of Paris), lives near Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport. A convenient location for delegates returning home on an early morning flight. It was an opportunity to meet over a meal, and to give them a few much-appreciated hours’ sleep before catching their flight.
15 minutes from the airport, we live in a house in the middle of the meadows, and we no longer have grown-up children living at home: this is what enables us to welcome delegates to the World Assembly.
After the close of the Assembly, Eric, Dijo, Babra from Botswana, and Esteban from Argentina arrived at the end of the day, very tired. We were delighted to welcome them: and give them a short break before the return journey: Roissy – Bahrain (very hot), Bahrain – South Africa (in the middle of winter), and finally South Africa – Botswana: what a journey on top of all that time spent at the Assembly!
As for Esteban, I’m surprised he’s the only delegate from Argentina, where he talks about the harsh economic crisis affecting his country.
The following day, Sunday, we welcomed Stephen Kizito, a Jesuit from Cameroon, François-Xavier, a Jesuit originally from Madagascar but now based in Burkina Faso, and Franklin and Brigitte from Peru.
Arriving earlier in the evening, they enjoyed our rural surroundings as our guest François-Xavier marveled at the trees, the meadows (exceptionally green this year), the mushrooms… He was astonished and couldn’t take everything in, but he did take photos of everything. Thanks to Stefan, François-Xavier had never seen so much vegetation.
The next day, on the way to the airport, I didn’t forget the little phrase he shared with me: “Chez nous, c’est la poussière … et nous mangeons de la poussière.” (At our home, there is dust everywhere… and we eat dust.) His return ticket to Roissy – Burkina was canceled because of the events in Niger, and he had to pass through Brussels to get to Burkina…
We took some time to relax with Brigitte, who loves to make friends with the sheep, and Franklin, who was very busy drafting the guidelines…
Again that evening, we had a simple meal: we belong to the same family, and beyond language, fraternity is lived, welcomed, and given.
What remains: the great joy of meeting the diversity of the delegates, but also respect and gratitude for all the time generously given in sometimes difficult contexts.
Véronique from the “Bretagne Occidentale” region (Vannes) was present in Amiens throughout the Assembly as a member of the “Communication” team. On her return, she welcomed the delegate from Latvia for a few days. Let’s hear her share the joy of this encounter.
The World CLC Assembly in Amiens was full of surprises and gifts! The welcome extended by a member of the Community who had come from afar offered us so much more.
Opening your home always means letting yourself be visited and moved around…
This time allowed us to discover our “riches” of all kinds. Recognizing ourselves as rich in a history of democracy and human rights, for example, or in real estate, since we own a house with a garden. But we’re also rich in nature… with the birds singing around us, with the trees surrounding us, even though we’re “in the city”. Our host had a talent for seeing and contemplating! With his camera, he would get as close as possible to a butterfly, a bee, and even the cats he loved so much!
I’ll always remember when he shared with us at length the still unhealed wounds of the two occupations his country went through. But also that moment of “grace” when the three of us sat together on the sofa one evening, admiring a dance and song show with thousands of participants. We admired the precision of the dancers, who created truly artistic, moving tableaux in superb, colorful costumes. Such precision work demonstrates just how discipline could be transformed into art and exploited to work together in the service of dance and the expression of life!
For our host, it was a thrill to contemplate his guest from his sofa here in France! It was as if he could see them better through the eyes of our companions, amazed by their beauty.
This moment also speaks to me, as if in a parable, of those days in Amiens when each and every one of us together entered into the admiration of humanity of brothers and sisters so different and so happy to be a family together in love.