Fr. Joseph Famerée, EUF provincial superior, recounts the 1,500 km journey accompanying the Superior General, following in the footsteps of Father Dehon and listening to the Dehonians of the EUF Province.
The visit took place from June 12 to 27, 2023. In each community, it included a community meeting to get to know the different members of the community, their community life and their pastoral or apostolic commitment. This was followed by individual meetings with Fr. General. Confreres greatly appreciated Fr. Carlos’ attitude of listening and encouragement and willingness to meet at length, even if some confreres wondered before the meeting “How can this conversation last an hour? Do we have so much to talk about?” The same confreres, on leaving the meeting, exclaimed: “How quickly it went!”… Time lived intensely goes by very quickly…
It all began on June 13 with the community of Saint-Quentin (three confreres serving the parish of Saint-Quentin en Vermandois and the Collège Saint Jean [and La Croix, today]), home of the foundation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the church of Saint-Martin. It is in the midst of restoration, with a new tomb for Fr. André Prévot, Servant of God, who was transferred from Asten to Saint-Quentin, in the presence of the bishop of Soissons, Laon and Saint-Quentin, and the sub-prefect of Aisne in Saint-Quentin. In the evening, Father General, Father Charles Koudjou and I stayed at La Capelle, in the house where Father Dehon was born. The community is made up of six confreres serving the surrounding parishes, starting with La Capelle. We stayed there until the afternoon of June 15, when we returned to Saint-Quentin on our way back to Paris, where our presence was expected for the celebration of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart and the welcoming of various guests.
June 17 was a day of transition, when we visited Fr.. Cayrac at his nursing home in Verrières-le-Buisson, not far from Paris. Sunday June 18 was devoted to the working-class fraternities of Lacanche (two confreres) and Massy (four confreres), who for this occasion met in Massy to share their experiences and commitments, discuss the future of these fraternities, celebrate Eucharist and share a fraternal meal.
On the morning of the 19th, we left Paris for the house in Brussels, where the Founder died on August 12, 1925. The community is made up of three permanent confreres, one of whom looks after the chapel while the other two are engaged in parish work, a scholastic in pastoral training and a confrere from Cameroon completing his doctoral thesis. On the afternoon of the 20th, we left for Clairefontaine via Bütgenbach (in German-speaking eastern Belgium), where we went to visit Fr. Lenz in his nursing home. He was amazed to find himself in the presence of a Superior General, a General Councillor and a Provincial. We arrived at Clairefontaine, the only house founded by Fr. Dehon (1889) still in operation, at around 7.30pm, an hour late for the evening meal. We stayed there until Thursday afternoon, June 22. There were eight members of the community present, three of whom are involved in parish work and others in charity work or spiritual direction, as well as the organization of the Welcome Center. From Clairefontaine, we continued our journey to the house in Metz, next to the bishop’s palace (three confreres, including two in parish work and one in hospital pastoral care). We stayed there until Monday morning, June 26, when we left for Illkirch-Graffenstaden (three confreres serving the diocese: parish, pastoral care for the handicapped…). We returned to Paris quite late in the evening. On Tuesday June 27, a large part of the day was devoted to the Paris Provincialate community (four members, including one involved in parish work on weekends and another in specialist studies). In the evening, at the end of this journey of over 1500 km, Father General presented an initial assessment of his visit to the Extraordinary Provincial Council gathered for the occasion, inviting us to an intensified provincial life in which some of the province’s priorities are shared by all. We look forward with gratitude to the more precise letter he and Fr. Charles will be drafting for the EUF Province.