05 April 2024
05 Apr 2024

The community of La Capelle turns 25

The community of La Capelle was (officially) erected on March 14, 1999.

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It’s a long-standing tradition in our Congregation for communities to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of our Founder: the Venerable Léon Jean Dehon. The community of La Capelle did not shirk this custom; indeed, it marked it with a special stamp: the celebration of 25 years of the presence of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in La Capelle. On March 14, the La Capelle community celebrated the 181st anniversary of the birth of Venerable Léon Jean Dehon, together with the community’s silver anniversary in La Capelle.

La  Capelle community was (officially) erected on March 14, 1999. Although the first confreres had arrived a few months earlier: notably Father Bernard Radin and Brother Pierre Auger. After clearing out the house in Amiens, which had just been sold, they moved their belongings to La Capelle (purchased in 1997) on December 2, 1998. They were later joined by Fathers Pedro Garcia and Stanislas Leszczynski respectively.

And why did you buy a property in La Capelle?

It’s not much of a question, barely  after 2 years of its acquisition, the new Amiens site was sold.The old house in Amiens, one of the places of memory of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in France, had served for many decads as the Dehonian novitiate of the French Province and now Europe Francophone.The place  formed several generations of SCJ Religious.

There were two main reasons for buying the house: the first, it is  sentimental, and the second, spiritual.

The driving force behind the project was Father André Perroux, who had maintained good relations with Father Dehon’s family.As soon as it was informed that the house was for sale, he immediately informed the General Government and threw his weight behind its purchase. Strictly speaking, neither he nor the General Government had any specific plans at the time, other than to be present in this place which bears the roots of our Foundation. As Father Joseph Famerée (EUF Provincial Superior) puts it: “It was a gamble for the Generalate of our Congregation to buy this house, but it was perhaps a bigger gamble to succeed in establishing a lasting, ever-international community here. It was above all the task of the new merged province of French-speaking Europe, which also dates back to 1999, to May 1, 1999 to be precise.

Over the years, the La Capelle community has been  a place for Dehonian spirituality and charism deepened and refreshed, especially for young people in formation (particularly those from Europe). Added to this,it is the apostolic dimension that serves to spread our charism and spirituality throughout the Diocese of Soissons. Father Provincial, recalling the two apostolic priorities of the EUF Province retained by the last Provincial Chapter, said:

“The community of La Capelle is directly concerned by these two apostolic priorities, as a historic place (in connection with Saint-Quentin, Brussels and Clairefontaine) where pilgrim confreres can be welcomed, but also other groups from your parishes and the diocese for pastoral training, retreats, but also for a presentation of our Dehonian charism, our spirituality and our apostolic commitment. The existence of this community is full of meaning and its future is open…” .

This double thanksgiving was enhanced by the presence of several confreres from other scj communities in the Province (Saint Quentin, Brussels and Paris) and presided over by Father Joseph Famerée who, speaking of what was a gamble 25 years ago, was quick to point out that “the gamble has paid off, since 25 years later the house at La Capelle is run by an international community of 6 very active members”.

And we closed this thanksgiving with the “Open House” on Sunday March 24, 2024, a time for conviviality, exchange and meeting with the lay faithful of the various parishes we serve. It’s also a tradition that has become established over the years. We shared with the thirty or so participants a brief history of Father Dehon’s life and some fond memories of the 25 years of our presence in La Capelle, to the joy and satisfaction of all.

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