Memories of the CIF 2014 Missionaries’ session: Week I

Friday, April 25th, 2014

CIF has begun a new series of sessions – this is the first time for confreres who work outside of their home culture (and language) and/or serve as missionaries to immigrants within their provinces.   The group is quite international: eighteen confreres from thirteen provinces, each with different missionary experience. All participants arrived on time.  This evening we introduced ourselves to each other, assisting each other with our own translations – French, English, Spanish, and a bit of Portuguese and Italian.

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Photo: Introductions in the Salle Pouget

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

In our first formal gathering of this session, the CIF Director, Fr. Dan Paul Borlik introduced the general program of this special session. After a brief orientation and history of CIF , he introduced the methodology of this session. He also presided and preached at our first Eucharist, in the House community’s “Oratoire”, concelebrated by all participants of this session.

Missionnaires I_Oratoire_26 avril

Photo: the Group in Chapelle des Missionnaires

In the afternoon we took the underground (the celebrated Parisian METRO), to see the site of the ancient home of Saint-Lazare. We visited the church of Saint Laurent which was the parish church of Saints Vincent and Louise de Marillac our our foundation from the 1630’s until the Revolution (1789) as the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity. We then went to the street of the nearby Rue Saint Denis, to see the still-visible walls of the ancient chapel of Saint-Lazare, the striking outside wall sculpture Vincent’s face, recently dedicated to the saint by local residents, as well as other remains of the chapel Saint-Lazare, and the old entrance.

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

The most important event of the day was Eucharist in the main chapel, at the tomb of our Founder, saint Vincent de Paul.  Presiding among us along with the other members of the House was the Mother House superior, P. Bernard Schoepfer. On this Divine Mercy Sunday we prayed for the assistance of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, two new saints of the Church.

After Mass the participants of session took a tour of our “Maison Mère” and its chapel.

We had dinner together with resident confreres who live here at 95, rue de Sèvres.

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Photo: 26 April – The Maison Mère Community welcomes the CIF missionaries

Monday, April 28th, 2014

After our early (7:00) morning prayers and Mass, we met in the “Salle Frederick Ozanam” (the CIF instruction room with translation and projection equipment), where we listened to our first presenter, Fr. Alvaro Restrepo, who spoke of documents missionary of the Church, the encyclical of Benedict XVI of 1755 up to Francis’ exhortation of last year. This survey, a historical-critical presentation, prepared us for work in our three language groups, to correlate recent three missionary documents of the Church: the Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi of Paul VI, the encyclical Redemptoris Missio of Pope St. John Paul II, and Pope Francis’ recent exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.

Group work began in the afternoon. After discussion, we gather together in “plenary session” to share results. We note remarkable evolution of the thought of the Church. There was much we had in common, indeed we most most struck by how much these official reflections had in common, while not always consistent with methods and practices apparently adapted to cultural trends and the mindset of previous epochs.

Álvaro Restrepo_conferencier

Photo: Álvaro Restrepo, CM (of the Paris Province)

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

This day was given to presenting and reflecting on the documents of the local churches where we serve, i.e. the Bishops’ Conferences reflections on missionary activity. In the morning we worked in language groups, shared those materials already prepared for this subject.

In the afternoon, in a meeting in the Salle Ozaname, the English and Spanish groups related what they had discussed in the morning – presentations were organized according to region. They illustrated the context of bishops’ preparation (education) and underlined the peculiarity of every country, as well as the variety of methods for evangelization, liturgy, and catechesis.

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

That day in session been envisaged pilgrimage in Folleville. We left Paris at 07:00 in the morning which had us arriving at our first stop, Gannes.  There, waiting for us was a parishioner and church archivist, Mr Michel Sorel who showed us the church.   Then we went to the place where our Congregation was born, Folleville. We celebrated mass there in the church with two patrons (St James and St John the Baptist), with one missionary from Madagascar – P. Jérôme Ralahizafy, presiding.

Photo: Folleville_CIF Missionaries after the Eucharist: Les Folleville_Chapelles Jean Baptiste et JacquesChapelles St. Jean Baptiste

After mass we visited the ruins of the castle and then left for Amiens, where the Missionary Community were waiting for us.   We had quite a feast with the the Vincentian team of Amiens. We also visited their church St Anne, next to their residence and one of various churches where they serve.  Perhaps the most visually striking part of our visit in Amiens was at the splendid gothic cathedral – the tallest in France.  Happily for us, our guide there was our presenter this week, Father John Rybolt.   After two hours to visit the cathedral we came back by bus to Paris, where we enjoyed an evening of pizza and fellowship at our Salle Pouget.

Amiens_Chez CM banquete

Photo: AMIENS_CHEZ CM banquete

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

We celebrated this official holiday for workers, by working ourselves ! Our sessions began at 9:00 am with the conference of Fr. John Rybolt, who introduced the historical context of Vincent de Paul’s life and missionary activity, where we noticed the same, if deepening sense of the word ‘mission ‘. A lot of well-known events of the life of our Founder can now be seen in a new light, thanks to those many who have worked on the volumes of the history of the Congregation.

John Rybolt

Photo: John Rybolt, CM (Western Province of the United States)

The afternoon began with an introduction for group work. Each received different portions from the Common Rules (of the Congregation of the Mission), and tracts taken from Abelly and from other writings, which illustrated the various elements of mission. Having worked in linguistic groups, all participants shared their points of view, particularly on popular missions. They pointed out the context of these missions in the time of St Vincent and more recent times, of the methods and of strategies or of other elements, all of which for the participants seemed quite valuable.

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Fr. John Rybolt continued today with a new set of conferences: following the historical context of popular missions and showed how this work was accomplished from the times of St Vincent until our own.  Examples comes from different countries and from different circles. In the same time our guide explained why next to mission appeared other writings. Which was the reason of the extension of activity of the Congregation.

The session of afternoon was opportunity to share the experience of popular missions in different countries and in different environments. What approches do we have today to popular missions, and what are their particular characteristics? Three of our confreres spoke about their experiences of popular missions: Thomas Lunot (Paris Province), who spoke about the experience of the Frenchmen, Giuseppe Ciappa (Naples Province) who introduced Italian missions, and Jérôme Ralahizafy, who introduced missions in the environment of Madagascar

The afternoon ended with preparation for our “long pilgrimage”, which begins tomorrow, and will have us tomorrow evening at the birthplace (Berceau) of SaintVincent de Paul.

Chronicler and Photographer, Fr. Adam Bandura (CIF Assistant Director);  
Editing and translations, Fr. Dan Paul Borlik (CIF Director)
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