A Heart of Union

A Heart of Union

A Heart of Union

A Heart of Union

A Heart of Union

A Heart of Union

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Interview by Liam Michael Quinn, Communications Manager

On April 20, 2024, we witnessed an historic moment in the history of our Congregation when together with our spiritual family of Eudist brothers and Marie-Auxiliatrice sisters we unveiled a new reliquary in the chapel at the Motherhouse in Angers, France. Following the event, the Communications Office had the welcome opportunity to ask Sr. Magdalena Franciscus, Province Councilor of Europe BFMN, some questions about how the reliquary and the event unfolded.

How did the idea for the reliquary come about?

It all began in Rome after the beatification of Aguchita in Peru, when we realized that we had two saints and three blesseds in our spiritual family, and that it would be a good idea to bring them together in a heart, representing the spirituality developed by St John Eudes. To symbolize this, we came up with the idea of a reliquary.

The idea coincided with the desire of the sisters in the Province of Europe BFMN to commission a work of art to mark the forthcoming 10th anniversary on June 27, 2024, of the reunification of our two congregations to be installed in one of the choirs in the chapel at the Motherhouse in Angers.

As the desire was so strong, the decision was taken almost immediately. We called on artist Véronique Charpy to design a piece that would bring together St John Eudes and St Mary Euphrasia as central figures, alongside our three blessed, and enhanced by Pope Francis’ blessing sent on June 27, 2014, symbolizing the Church’s gratitude for the reunion of the family of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd after so many years of separation.

This is why the joy was palpable at this magnificent event in Angers. The celebration was presided over by Fr Jean Michel Amouriaux, Superior General of the Eudists, together with three other Eudist priests, Sr Joan Marie Lopez, Congregational Leader, accompanied by her leadership team, and Sr Nathalie Djuichou, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Marie-Auxiliatrice, accompanied by her leadership team.

You will know that Sr Marie Thérèse de Soubiran is the foundress of the Sisters of Marie-Auxiliatrice who, after being expelled from her congregation, entered Our Lady of Charity where the example of her humble and modest life eventually led to her beatification as a blessed. Today, she is acknowledged as the founder of her own congregation, and as an integral part of our family history.

Why did you make this reliquary?

It seems for us today that we need witnesses of faith – to be able to contemplate the faces of men and women who have given everything to God and his mission to the most vulnerable, and who have borne witness through the example of their lives that their life choice was a path to happiness.

In the heart of the reliquary, we are able to contemplate St John Eudes’ passion for the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus and Mary and his love for the poor; St Mary Euphrasia’s passionate audacity in establishing 110 foundations for women whose dignity had been trampled; Blessed Marie Thérèse de Soubiran’s exemplary life which willingly embraced suffering; Sr Marie of the Divine Heart’s significant missionary work in Portugal and her devotion and consecration to the Heart of Jesus and, finally, Sr Augustina Rivas’ – affectionately known as Aguchita – offering of her life to the local indigenous people in Peru right up to her martyrdom. These lives are an inspiration for us and we are committed to make them known so that they may light up the path of our contemporaries who also seek a path of happiness.

In his homily, Father Amouriaux said: “We celebrate the holiness of God which is reflected in the faces of our brother and sisters, saints and blesseds”. He went on to say: “Let us adhere profoundly to God’s plan, let us be actors of reconciliation and communion everywhere, constantly working increasingly together in the same spiritual family”.

This is a strong invitation that has been extended to us, may it come true!

How were you affected by this powerful moment for our spiritual family?

I experienced a new communion of our congregations, made of unity and deep fraternal joy, drawn from the heart of our common spirituality bequeathed by our founders!

Click here to watch a video of the event below.

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