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With the COVID-19 pandemic, the last few months have seen the cessation of certain activities around the world, a reorganisation of time and a return to the essential. The work of the Archives was no exception, however the time freed up by the cancellation of sessions and meetings enabled us to spend long days inventorying the boxes in the new room. Thus 330 boxes have already been filled, put in place, labelled and inventoried.
Providential help always comes when we need it! It has happened before.
First of all, Sr Ada Luz, from the Auteuil community, and Eliane, a lay friend of the community, patiently set about wrapping Marie Eugénie's letters in PH-neutral paper. Their meticulous work is indispensable; they can turn it into a path of contemplation, a silent prayer, which opens up to a greater closeness with our foundress.
After March 15, Sister Elizabeth (from East Africa) and Sister Octavie (from Central Africa) arrived in Auteuil for the session of preparation for the Perpetual Vows and found themselves confined with the community. They came to help tidy up the Archives twice a week for almost two months: thus, the documents, sometimes dusty, went up faster! The old room was gradually emptied... and the new boxes multiplied. At the same time, our two sisters were able to discover some of the treasures of the Archives : the manuscripts of the Constitutions, copied, annotated, worked on by Mother Marie Eugénie, Mother Thérèse Emmanuel, Father d'Alzon and many others; the photo albums of the origins (sisters, pupils, families, first foundations...); the illuminations for the liturgy and those for the feast days (which show the care taken in celebrations of all kinds); and many other things... Each time, it was an opportunity for a historical discovery and a greater closeness with our foundresses. Each one is invited to come and enrich herself by making herself useful
A digital inventory
In contrast to the handwritten inventory drawn up by the former archivists, the list of contents has been entered into the new digital inventory. This prompts a double thanksgiving: gratitude for the work of the previous archivists who have annotated, adjusted, corrected the inventory from the start (their annotations make it possible to solve almost all research problems!) and the joy of now being able to search the documents by keyword on the Congregation's server (the search is faster, more complete; links are possible between different series).
The names of the archivists over time
Furthermore, thanks to Sister Marie-Claude, we are now able to share a list of the archivists recorded in a register (H RV I c1). It begins during the Generalate of Mother Marie Joanna:
There was no-one from 1963 to October 1971.
Many more sisters were involved in the work for the cause of beatification and then canonization of Marie Eugénie, from 1932 to 2007, in Val Notre Dame, Auteuil and Rome.
The joy of sharing
Just before the confinement, Sister Véronique was happy to make a return trip to Brussels to share the evening of March 10 with the sisters and lay friends, gathered to reflect on the relevance of the message of St. Marie Eugénie today. After the talk opening the evening, the comments of the participants highlighted the extent to which the charism of the Assumption is one of transformation, drawing the strength for a firm commitment in society from contemplative life and open-mindedness.
With the month of May came the possibility of intervening for the session of preparation for the perpetual vows. The history of Auteuil, the vocational journey of Marie Eugénie, the years from the foundation to the crisis with Fr. Combalot, the history of the Congregation through the work of drafting the Constitutions. The sisters were able to begin to revisit their own founding story through the symbol of the "bond of love" used by Marie Eugénie to talk about the way the Lord led her life.
Finally, your questions, your research, the exchanges with you are always a pleasure! The messages arrive in great numbers and we try to respond to them as quickly as possible, even if it is always a challenge.
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Sister Véronique Thiébaut,
Archivist of the Congregation,
And all the collaborators