The Religious of the Assumption turn 175 years old today. We give thanks for St. Marie Eugenie and our first Sisters!
Sr. Martine and the General Council send us their greetings on this very special day:
30 April 2014
175th Foundation Day Anniversary
"Galilee is the placewhere everything began!
To return to Galilee means to re-read everything on the basis of the cross and its victory.
To re-read everything: Jesus' preaching, his miracles, the new community, the excitement and the defections, even the betrayal to re-read everything starting from the end, which is a new beginning, from this supreme act of love."
From the Homily of Pope Francis,Easter Vigil, 19 April 2014
Very dear Sisters and Friends,
In the splendor of the Season of EASTER we greet you on the occasion of the 175th Anniversary of our Foundation!
In profound thanksgiving for all the marvels that God has done in the Congregation and in each one of us, Sisters, Communities, Provinces/Region, Lay Friends, Collaborators and Partners -- as Assumption Together, we celebrate God's fidelity!
Pope Francis in his Easter Vigil Homily invites us to "return to where everything began" but "starting from the end." It may be good for us to do the same as we celebrate the day when it all started for us in the Assumption but "not to go back in time....not a kind of nostalgia" but to return from where we are now and celebrate our beginnings from the GRACES and the GIFTS of the PRESENT MOMENT -- the LIFE that our Congregation is living today -- the LIFE that we are called to take care of and render even more fruitful by the love we have for each other and the choices and options that we make.
Still full of the outpouring of the spirit during the last Plenary General Council (CGP) in February, we have just returned from a grace-filled visit of the Province of India and from some three weeks of joyfully discovering the LIFE of our ANDP Sisters in Madagascar! Now we are welcoming 20 of our sisters from all four continents coming for the Session in preparation for Final Vows! Soon we will be on our way to Japan for the Visit there. This is the LIFE that we are living! This is where the RISEN ONE meets us and invites us to rekindle the fire of our LOVE for GOD and for the WORLD and become EASTER PEOPLE communities of HOPE and LOVE!
Paraphrasing our Holy Fathers invitation, in the SPIRIT of our dear mother -- St. Marie Eugenie of Jesus whose passion it was to make of us women and men who love our times..."Let us return to where it all began in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the Congregation and in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth in this intense desire of encounter Let us be on our way!"
A GRACE-FILLED FOUNDATION DAY TO ONE AND ALL‼!
Sr. Martine Tapsoba and the General Council
You may also want to know what happened on that first day of the Assumption Sisters' beginnings. We reprint below an account of this day in 1839 when Anne Eugenie Milleret, a young twenty-one year old French woman, began this great adventure of the Assumption with our first Sisters.
(excerpt taken from "Marie Eugenie Milleret: A woman's spiritual search in 19th century France" by Helen Marie Bories, R.A. , translated from French by Joan Weber and Nuala Cotter, R.A.)
On April 30, 1839, the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, Anne Eugenie Milleret and Anastasia Bevier met in a small apartment on rue Ferou, a tiny lane near Saint Sulpice. It was appropriate that they came together on such a day, for Catherine had been someone who had combined an active life in and for the Church with the deepest contemplation. Now, in the evening, as the great bells of Saint Sulpice joined all the other bells of the capital to ring in the month of Mary, they realized that the day was equally appropriate for a congregation dedicated to the Assumption. Year after year, Marie Eugenie would celebrate that anniversary by recounting once more the amazing deeds of God:
"Our Congregation had such weak and powerless beginnings, so disproportionate to the good things God has been pleased to derive from it, that we would not even dare to recount them if it were not for the fact that it is precisely in the absence of any human strength and wisdom that the works are shown to be more truly of God. It is the disproportion which makes us see and believe our Creator and Jesus Christ, the one who wanted from us only a total and loving dependence on Him."
Religious life, given its rhythm by the sound of the bell, was really beginning for the Assumption: the little community prayed, studied, and attended to the household chores, its members always carrying the great project in their hearts. Times for Office, silence, spiritual reading and prayer were decided so that they could savor, moment by moment, the joy of pleasing God....
....The door of 15 rue Ferou was often pushed open by friends and benefactors who helped the community in many ways. But they received help for themselves as well. The little apartment was an oasis of prayer in the heart of Paris; anyone who wanted to "come away for a while," to drink from its wellspring and rest in its shade was welcome. Young people, attracted by this new kind of humble yet bold religious life, pushed the door open and asked to stay....
....Rue Ferou was a kind of "school of poverty," a tiny apartment where the sisters slept on straw mattresses and ate at their meager table sitting on the few chairs the house could boast....
....Fifty five years after these events, in 1884, Marie Eugenie remembered how their life was, and spoke too about what it meant:
"Going back to those first days and seeing everything the Lord has done for us, I was struck by a thought I need to express to you. It is that in our work, everything is from Jesus Christ, everything belongs to Jesus Christ, everything must be for Jesus Christ...We began in a poor little apartment, then in rented houses. We were a few poor girls without a place on the earth. God gave us everything...Everything comes from Him; everything, therefore, belongs to Him and must return to Him!"