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20th-23rd August 2017: Reliving our foundation in Chatillon 400 years ago and turning towards the future…

Four days of spiritual retreat were organised in August so that 400 years on, Vincentians could relive together the exact dates of St Vincent’s call to action in Chatillon and the remittance of the First Rule to the newly formed Ladies of Charity.

There were around 40 of us, members of AIC from Great Britain, Spain, Belgium and France, residents of Chatillon and the surrounding area, priests and Daughters of Charity.

A few special moments:

  • The Solemn Mass on 20th August which began with a moving re-enactment of the founding events performed by AIC volunteers from Chatillon and Father Blot, the current parish pastor, the same roles in the same place, 400 years later…

  • Renewed awareness of the role of women in the foundation of our association thanks to Saint Vincent who listened to them, proclaimed in the Church their call to help those in dire straits and then, impressed by the speed at which they went to serve those in need, encouraged them to organise themselves so that their charitableness could continue.
  • (Re)discovery of the treasure that is the First Rules of Saint Vincent, who was clearly an attentive man, who let himself be moved by others and who then in turn struck a chord in their hearts and gave rise to action. He was an organiser and a teacher, concerned for the well-being of the sick, a great pioneer in inviting us from the beginning to undertake charity that “puts people back on their feet”. An impulse that still inspires and motivates us today!
  • An evening of “testimonies” with the presentation of a few of AIC’s activities today in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

  • On 23rd August at 10am, in the chapel of St Vincent’s home, along with 150,000 volunteers across the world, the renewal of our AIC commitment for the years ahead of us.

Sr. Thérèse, DC in the Community of Chatillon, who organised this wonderful retreat with the help of a great team, put it nicely when she summarised what we had experienced:

“Each of us will remember these four days full of spiritual richness, human encounters, friendship and deepening and appropriation of the Vincentian charism…

The moving mass on 20th August, the revitalising pilgrimage, the soothing evening songs, the empowering spiritual walk, the enriching round table… it all invites us to continue our commitment.

Thank you to each of you, for your active presence during these 4 days, for your “corporal and spiritual service”: Priests, sisters from the Community, speakers, volunteers, residents and parishioners…

What a joy to have accompanying priests among us, as well as witnesses of the impact of St Vincent de Paul today.

All this was possible thanks to many of you: the rooms and picnics that were prepared, the flowers that had been arranged, the generous refreshments during the breaks, the fortifying songs, the photos, the warm welcome, the attention to others, the little favours, the simultaneous translations, etc.

Yes, thank you for this experience for which we have been preparing for so long; according to many participants it has been a profound moment of internal happiness, invigorating for the mission.”

 “All with Love”, just as St Vincent asked!

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