France: The Nîmes Community - Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Foundation of the Little Sisters of the Assumption
Nîmes, 23 and 24 May 2015
At Nîmes, cradle of the Oblates of the Assumption, we had the joy of celebrating that anniversary together as the Oblates were celebrating the 150th anniversary of their foundation.
From the 9th of May, we were invited to make a pilgrimage to the places linked with the foundation of the Oblates. The latter were there in large numbers: the General Council, Council of the Congregation and other Sisters; these were joined by the Assumptionists from Nîmes and some from Lyons.
Le VIGAN, a district in the Cévennes region, had welcomed the first Oblate Sisters at Rochebelle. The house, now occupied by a family from Chartres, was opened to let us see the room that had been used as a chapel by the first Sisters.
From there we went, still in the Le Vigan, to La Valette where, on a property bought by Father d’Alzon, there is still a house and chapel; we stayed for a time of prayer. We were all to meet at the church of St Pierre du Vigan, where Father d’Alzon had been baptised, for the Eucharist at which the Bishop of Nîmes, Mgr Wattebled, presided.
After separating for the meal, we met again to go (by coach) to Espérou, a hamlet where, in 1865, Father d’Alzon laid the first stone of a chapel, at the request of the inhabitants. Two Oblate Sisters had lived there from 1873 to 1879, seeing to the children for their schooling and catechism. The chapel, which is well kept, made it possible for us to have another time of thanksgiving.
Following this good preparation provided by the pilgrimage, we came to the 23rd of May. We were happy to have Eugenia Hueto with us to celebrate this important Congregational anniversary at Nîmes.
A gathering was planned for 3 p.m. to which friends and acquaintances of the Oblates and Little Sisters had been invited. A photomontage made by one of the Little Sisters on the beginning of the Congregation and the development of the community at Nîmes showed the evolution of our activities over time and the needs of society.
A coincidence of dates: Pentecost and the day for the local festivities – the assembly was not very big but those present were motivated and interested: religious from Nîmes, members of the Fraternity, friends from the parish and from the locality.
We were asked to give some explanations concerning the Fraternity and the Aolas, information about the JPIC Commission, the future of the community.
A participant who had been acquainted with the Little Sisters for a long time gave his testimony concerning their action in a district under construction, the Mas de Mingue.
The Oblates then described their activity in the various countries of the world where they are.
The afternoon continued with a cel-ebration for vocations in the chapel of the Oblates, which contains the tombs of Father d’Alzon and of the Foundress.
It was prayerful celebration, with hymns and prayers from the writings of Fr d’Alzon and Fr Pernet and ending with the hymn to the Blessed Virgin: ’Couronnée d’étoiles’ (Crowned with stars).
A meal brought together all those who were able to prolong the evening a little: a time of getting to know one another among ourselves and with some friends and members of the Fraternity.
On Sunday morning we came together for a Thanksgiving Mass in the Church of St Perpetua, the parish of Fathers d’Alzon and Pernet during their visits to Nîmes. Each Congregation had made a poster that remained in the church on the board reserved for the Congregations. There was a kindly and warm welcome from the parish priest who discovered that "lovely name Pernettes" that was given at Nîmes to the first Little Sisters.
As might be expected, a meal bringing together Assumptionists, Oblates and Little Sisters from Nîmes brought those beautiful days to a close.
Some persons who were deeply touched by the Power-Point presentation asked that it be shown again in our parish after the holidays. We will do this later on.
The Little Sisters in Nîmes