Process of transformation of La Grande Bretèche

on 25 Jan, 2023
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La Grande Bretèche, Tours (France), Sr. Rosario Garcés del Castillo, 01/25/2023.- On November 1st, 2022, on the feast of All Saints, the blessing of the new facilities that some of our sisters would occupy the next day was made. It is about the realization of a part of the project approved in the General Chapter of 2014.

“The study on the Mother House has occupied an important part of our personal and group reflection, besides the discussions in the Chapter Room. Detailed information was given to the Assembly about the evolution of the history of the Mother House and its present reality: some of the buildings are under-utilized and the diminishing number of sisters. Also, with regard to the financial situation: especially the decrease of resources and the progressive increase of expenses, which obliges us to revise the present organization. For several months, the General Council with the Province of France, have researched the possibilities of adapting the House to the current needs in order to restore financial balance, to continue to respond to its mission. After many numerous exchanges and the Project presented by the General Government.

The Chapter affirms: The importance to conserve the Mother House of the Congregation at La Grande Breteche, as the “House of all” (C 178)

…The present infirmary needs to be renovated and the responsibility for the personnel will be assumed through the subsidies foreseen from government agencies. This will enable a more appropriate care of the elderly and sick sisters and a greater possibility to come closer to a financial balance.”

To make this requirement a reality, it was necessary to make a certain number of movements, of course with the proper authorizations after a long legal process necessary for this type of locative transformation.

And this is how between 2020 and 2021, the transfer of the offices of the Treasurer of the Province of France and the General Archive began to the opposite side of their initial position. A colossal work to which especially Sr. Dominique du Christ, archivist of the Congregation, was always attentive.

Then the rest of the buildings had to be emptied, which included a community called Notre Dame de Lourdes. The Sisters with patience and strength assumed this displacement, which is not only physical, and its consequences.

The adaptation and construction work of the new spaces begin, meanwhile we are living a totally unexpected event: the pandemic caused by the COVID 19 virus and due to this the confinement and restrictions on the movement of raw materials and others begin. As a result, the delay in the entire process and the increase in costs. The Léopold Bellan Foundation, which is in association with the Province of France in this construction project for a residence for the elderly, is the one that monitors the progress of the work and assumes the financial part. The project is designed to accommodate at least 85 elderly residents in a medicalized and family environment.

Simultaneously, to these external works, "internally" we live in the expectation of knowing what the future holds for us. The evolution of events is setting a pace, sometimes discordant with what we expected and other times pleasantly surprising.

In short, we continues on this way, discovering new horizons each time, until the day of change arrives. The first to pass are our sisters who were in the Infirmary, almost all of them over 85 years of age. Then other Sisters who were not in the Infirmary, but who agreed to experience this new mission. The movement was from everyone, even from the 12 Sisters that do not pass “next”.

Now we are in the process of inventing a new organization, we are still a community, with different rhythms and needs, trying to discover the appropriate responses at all times. We advance serenely with confidence in Providence and the support of each other.

I would like to end with an idea expressed by Sr. Véronique Margron, Provincial Superior of France, on the occasion of this "passage" : "And if someone doubts the strength of the heart that remains forever and ever, it would suffice to remember these words - between the most beautiful in the Bible- directed by God to little Gideon, in the book of Judges (6: 14) "Go with this strength that you have" (Editorial for the RCF. 11/6/2022).