Eight sisters from three continents gathered at the International Centre to spend a week together for the program, "The Lace Is Not Yet Finished." Sr. Jane DeLisle was the presenter. Sr. Elisabete Reis of Brazil and Sr. Simone Saugues of France were the translators for Portuguese and French, respectively.
"We have been swimming in the deep end of the charism this week just by telling the stories," said Sr. Jane who pointed out that the sisters have heard the stories of the original six sisters, Father Medaille, Mother St. John Fontbonne, and others. Now it is the sisters' turn to share their stories with new members, vocations, people they work with every day.
"Our charism is one of relationship," said Sr. Jane.
The group started out this relationship by introducing themselves and getting to know one another. After climbing St. Michel, they prayed together and looked all around them at the volcanic activity that created the landscape. They began to understand how the charism started as an explosion of life in Le Puy--and spread throughout the world. They learned how the charism was planted by Fr. Medaille and the founding sisters, which began through the Holy Spirit.
"We've been given a mystical spirit and need to be women of prayer or none of this makes any sense," continued Sr. Jane.
Being in the streets of Le Puy, said Sr. Jane, the same streets that our early sisters walked allowed the participants to bring their hearts to the experience of touching the ground, breathing the air, learning the stories in person. As a result, she invited them to write letters to the first sisters to help this experience of place come alive.
Being in the Kitchen was particularly moving. Being in that small space where the early sisters lived helped us to understand their simplicity, poverty, and prayer with each other, said Sr. Jane.
"It was the place where they warmed up one another, made sacrifice as a way of life that they shared and lived together. It is now a place where we see ourselves in them through our relationship with them--and through our own relationships in our own homes. It is all about love, conviction, feeling of relationship with sisters. This is pure gift."
The group went to places particular to Mother St. John Fontbonne: Lyon, Bas-en-Basset, Monistrol, the gravesite.
"We are tied to someone who lost everything and yet had the courage and grace to build it up again by creating new houses," said Sr. Jane.
She pointed out that we live in communion so that all may be one. That means that we are called to inclusive, all-embracing, self-emptying love.
"Our common language is the charism. With our love, we understand each other and consequently, have a connection with Sisters of St. Joseph from all over the world.
"I thank God that I got a chance to come to France and visit Le Puy and our foundresses places. I like the place, Le Puy. It is very holy, very calm, and it has a quiet, prayerful atmosphere. I liked the Centre because at least we have one in Le Puy to keep these kinds of programs." Sr. Anita, India
"Un petit mot qui dit tout ce que m'habite c'est le simple mercis...et juste un encouragement aux personnes de la maison que le seigneur __ tout puissant nous donne son amour, les grâce ___ vous avez besoins et le goût d'être ensemble et de revivre ensemble. Merci, merci infiniment merci." Sr. Marie, Burkina Faso
"I was deeply touched and moved by the bare Kitchen where the six sisters gathered around the hearth for prayer, sharing and with zeal responded to God's call by reaching out to the dear neighbor."
Sr. Francis Xavier, India
My deep experience is love for the founder and foundresses and love for the congregation. Union with God and each sister in the congregation of St. Joseph. And the sacred thread which binds us together. I was touched by the life of our first sisters. Their lives brought me very close to each other. I loved the Centre and Le Puy. These were amazing experiences. And the visiting of the holy places gave me the boost for my prayer life. Thank you for this opportunity. Sr. Felisita, India