In her Chapter of August 13, 1891, Marie Eugenie said: “It is always a great joy to be together during the holidays and it is the consolation that we feel at this moment when many Sisters who were working for God and fulfilling their mission far away have momentarily joined us. But this reunion must be more than a joy for us. Undoubtedly, joy is a good thing and God always gives it generously to all His creatures (…) Sisters, I would like this joy of coming together to be not only a joy for us, but also an opportunity to renew, to immerse ourselves once more. To immerse ourselves once more in what? Well, I believe that it must above all be in the Spirit of our Institute, in the Spirit of the Assumption."
There were no sessions at Auteuil, no cries of joy when we saw each other, no laughter resonating in the corridors of the house ... but the Covid invited us to enlarge the walls of our Mother House. Isaiah's voice rang out: "Enlarge the space of your tent, spread out your tent cloths unsparingly; lengthen your ropes, and make firm your pegs! "(Isaiah 54:2)
With everyone's creativity and hard work, a curtain of the tent was lifted, and we carried it further than our hearts had imagined. Thus, the Archives Team received a hundredfold of this joy of which Marie Eugenie speaks. In February, the "Aux Sources" days brought together several hundred people who came to "re-immerse themselves" in the Spirit of the Assumption, who came to drink from the common source. Aside from the Sisters, lay people came to enrich the communion among us. This experience made us realize even more that the sources are valuable only if they are shared and that it is up to each one of us to propose this sharing, there where we are, with audacity and humility.
There have been no sessions at Auteuil… but how many meetings, thanks to our new companion - zoom…, with the teachers from Guayaquil (Ecuador), the teams from Antipolo, San Simon and Malibay (Philippines), the older Sisters of Europe, teachers from Vilnius (Lithuania), the group Assumption Together of Italy or all the schools in Spain “gathered” on March 10 for a “live” visit to Auteuil, as well as many others. Each time, we have been touched by the depth of the experiences, by the revealing effect of the sharing, by the thirst to meet together.
In March, the Mistresses of Formation joined the group. After the questionnaire sent widely to a group of 100 people, Sisters and lay people, we took several decisions in dialogue with Sr. Rekha and her Council. One of them was to journey, as an Archives Team, with the Mistresses of Initial Formation (aspirants, postulants and novices) in order to be formed together and to create tools that will allow us to deepen the sources and the history during these stages of formation. A first meeting took place which made it possible to formulate the themes on which it would be good to work on. We hope to achieve concrete results as soon as possible that we can share with you.
In addition to the regular meetings with the Archivists of each Province, the number of collaborators has also grown. After the zoom visits to the Congregation's web page, many volunteers (around thirty Sisters and lay friends) showed up to download texts, reread them and share them when more and more were put online. And even if this task still seems pharaonic, a small ‘army of ants’, our modern day "copyists", have replaced the monastic stylus with the computer and are giving of their time to help us. The group can still be expanded, especially with English speaking volunteers.
Under our tent open to all, the Archives of our Augustinian Sisters have also taken their place. The Archives of the rue des Plantes have become an annex of the General Archives and the discoveries made in Arras have enriched them. More than 1000 years of history are thus entrusted to us, with all the heritage of the development of hospital care given in France by the Congregation. We are only just beginning to explore this depth, but it is already nourishing us a lot.
Marie Eugenie was right in saying that when the walls of Auteuil are enlarged, whatever form it takes, a great joy of communion flows freely!
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Sister Véronique, Archivist of the Congregation