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A Beziers Pilgrimage

by Bea McMahon, RSHMCategory: Updates

illustration of brown tree with cross growing out of it and vine-like branches with green leaves

July 5th, 6th, and 7th, 2022 were memorable days for RSHM, days of prayer as the remains of our Founders were removed from the Mother House prior to its closing.

Sister Margaret Fielding, Institute Leader, addressed the sisters gathered from all Areas. Sisters Rosamond Blanchet and Catherine Vincie represented the Eastern American Area. Sister Margaret’s address included the following reflection:

Soon the bodies of Father Gailhac and Mere St. Jean will be taken to the “Cimitiere Vieux” to be laid beside their “daughters,” among the people of Beziers whom they loved and served, where they will be more easily accessible to all those who wish to have recourse to them as intercessors with God. At this graced moment, we realize more deeply that for us Beziers is not simply a geographical location, a place on a map, but a place in the heart. It’s where JeanGailhac, recently widowed Appollonie Cure Pelissier, and the first community began the journey in faith, where they walked the streets, hearts burning with big desires and with deep faith and zeal. We will continue to return to Beziers, to have renewal programs here; we will come here as pilgrims, to drink from our Sources, to find inspiration to live our mission today. Beziers will always be that place in our hearts, the place where the dream began.

This house, our Mother House, will soon become available for the mission of the Church in the Diocese of Montpelier, the Church that Father Gailhac loved and served. It will soon be a place of Christian education and formation for the youth of Beziers. On August 28, 1873, Father Gailhac wrote from Liverpool to the sisters here in the Mother House… “this house that is much loved of my heart…the mother house of all the others…. It is from this center that Jesus Christ, our Lord, will spread to all the other houses….”

If Jean Gailhac were to write to us today, he would surely urge us not to be discouraged at this moment in our history, but to rejoice that this house, so beloved of his heart and of the hearts of us all, will open wide its doors to the future, so that God’s work may continue within its walls. Jean Gailhac would surely encourage us to have the “spirit of Jesus Christ” firmly rooted in our communities and ministries today, as it was in the Mother House….

The image of the vine and branches on the banners shown here was originally painted by Bernadette Crook, RSHM, on the wall of the community room in the Mother House. It vividly symbolizes the hope of Pere Gailhac for his daughters:

“May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. Eph. 3:17

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