Beatification Cause of Father Etienne Pernet - Info flash n°7
Beatification Cause of Father Etienne Pernet
Founder of the Little Sisters of the Assumption
A word from the Vice-Postulator…
The first issue of 2015 announced the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Little Sisters of the Assumption. These took place in different parts of the world throughout the year, being especially intense on the 21st of June with the Eucharistic Celebration in the Church of St Jean Baptiste de Grenelle, which was followed by a festive gathering at the Mother House with some 600 participants. The exhibition showing the various stages for the Beatification of Father Pernet was very successful.
The other notable event is the departure of Father Julio Navarro Roman – Postulator for the cause, who has returned to his country: Chile. On that occasion he gave an interview summarising the task that is continuing so as to respond to the questions put by the Church:
- Do you believe in the holiness of Father Pernet?
- Is there prayer seeking his intercession?
- Is he a witness to the Christian faith for the men and women of today, and for those who carry out his work, especially the laypeople who are committed with the Little Sisters?
Our contemporaries are sensitive to the testimony given by Father Pernet through his love for the poor, those who are marginalised, those who count for nothing. Speaking to the Little Sisters on the 30 September 1888, he said:
"You have chosen as your heritage those who are poor, those who are neglected, and you have consecrated your life to be apostles in their midst."
How do we show that his message is relevant for today?
Sister Madeleine Rémond
Prayer composed and written in 1898 by Father Pernet after his retreat at Livry
"My God, I place myself into the hands
Of your will
For your Glory and the salvation of my neighbour.
Show me what I should see,
Inspire me with what I should say,
Support me in what I should do."
Extract from Holiness of a life
The man of prayer
During this journey of evangelical abandonment and availability to the plans of God which the Servant of God was to undertake and continue, his path to wisdom was through prayer. A permanent, contemplative prayer that was shown first of all by the prolonged adoration that led him to rise at a very early hour. There, beside the Lord, he found counsel and rest. With his whole being he was "God’s beggar", as he had learned from St Augustine and from the example of his mother and all the poor people.
Also, he gave the example of a man who was united to God, "lost in God", "living in the presence of God", a man whom everything led back to God – in the midst of nature, among people and in the course of events. It was not in vain that the witnesses declared that "he was impregnated by God", that "as he approached one felt closer to God".
Testimony concerning Father Pernet
2. RELIGIOUS OF THE ASSUMPTION
AND FOUNDER OF THE LITTLE SISTERS
91. The solicitude shown by the Servant of God towards his foundation did not cut him off from his community or his Congregation.
"While being very attached to his religious family", declared Fr Mercklen, A.A., "Father Pernet wished his Institute to have its own life and not be attached to the fate of the Assumptionists with the risk that disagreements might arise from that for his community."
92. In 1873, le P. Galabert, missionary in the Orient, knowing the work of the Servant of God and seeing so many poor homes in Constantinople, asked him for a foundation by the Little Sisters. The Servant of God, in agreement with the foundress, insisted that the Institute was only beginning and could not for the moment run the risk of a distant and difficult foundation.
With regard to the Pilgrimages to Lourdes, the attitude of the Servant of God was different because every year the Assumption led a large group of patients there, some of whom were from families visited by the Little Sisters. Therefore, they could accompany them in order to care for them.
Through apostolic solidarity, the Servant of God supported the work of the Bonne Presse run by the Assumption and asked the lay fraternities of his foundation to participate in distribution of the publications that were popular and cheap: La Croix, Le Pèlerin, Vies des Saints, Evangiles and the Catéchismes illustrés. Because of his temperament, his only fear was that, in the climate of conflict existing at the time, there might be recourse to polemical articles.
Sylloge V, 22-23
Extract from the report of the Sacred Congregation for the Cause of Saints – Parisien – Stephani Pernet
His holiness was also expressed in his situation as a religious. For him, it was the support he needed. He was forever grateful to Fr d’Alzon for having accepted him into the Assumption. Every year, at Christmas, he renewed his religious consecration so as to live, in a fuller way, the poverty, chastity, obedience and the apostolic and community spirit of the Assumption.
Following the first disciples of Fr d’Alzon, he had made a vow to extend the reign of God. Fidelity to his apostolic vow was at the root of his foundation and of the constancy he showed in giving it a missionary orientation. (16)
He loved community life, in the spirit of the Rule of Saint Augustine. "He was very regular in observing the rule", "going to great trouble to be agreeable to God and retaining the perfection of his state". He was attentive to the Brothers who were ill, to the young members, and to those who were less gifted, taking his share of service and responsibility even at the level of the whole Congregation.
Extract no. 186
(16) Formula of the "fourth vow" taken in the Assumption until 1863
My name is María Rosa, and with this letter I give my testimony:
In the year 2013 I had a detached retina and a hole in the macula of the left eye; I had an operation but, unfortunately, I lost my sight completely. In May 2014, the same thing happened with my right eye and I was seen by several doctors who all told me that it was very risky and did not guarantee that it would be a success. I was very, very anxious.
I had heard a lot about Father Etienne Pernet and the miracles he worked, and I began to pray very much.
On the 2nd of June they operated on my eye and for two weeks I saw absolutely nothing. The days passed and then, very gradually, I began to recover some vision. Now, three months after the operation, I have recovered completely and I have been discharged from hospital. I am continuing to pray to Father Pernet every day, thanking him for that miracle.
María Rosa Marchetti
Secretariat for the cause of the beatification of Père Etienne Pernet :
Sr Madeleine Rémond