Thirteen sisters came to the Centre for a week-long retreat led by Sr. Janet Mock (Baden) who used various religious paintings, Scripture, and spiritual writings for meditation and focusing. All the sisters were Americans with two sisters from Peru and one sister from the Congo. Interpreters were provided for Spanish and French speakers.
Scenography in Le Puy
The sisters spent the afternoon exploring the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph at the Scenography display. The Scenography provides a history of the sisters beginning with the Reformation in 1550 and ending in the present day.
The Scenography is celebrating its first anniversary this month. It was made possible by a grant from the Moggio Foundation.
Line explains some details about the timeline to Donna and Celeste (Philadelphia).
Jeanne and Mary Ellen (Brentwood) examine some historical data on the pioneer sisters of 1650.
Janet Mock (Baden) and Linda (Orange) listen to some oral history.
The sisters spent a day in Lyon. They first visited the Mother St. John Fontbonne History Center.
Here is the first book where the early sisters signed their names and made a commitment to the congregation. The crossed out names were misspellings since the early sisters were illiterate. The book below is Mother St. John Fontbonne's journal.
Mother St. John Fontbonne's rosary beads
A replica of Mother St. John Fontbonne's bed.
The suspended crucifix and prie-dieu that Mother St. John Fontbonne used for prayer. The cross is missing because it symbolizes the cross we must bear as followers of Jesus.
A plaster replica of Mother St. John Fontbonne located in her "bedroom." The bedroom is supposed to represent her spirit and legacy of the Congregation.
The Chapel of the Saint Joseph Sisters
The sisters visited the Chapel of the Saint Joseph Sisters. Here is the sanctuary and altar. The chapel is no longer used as a chapel but rather as a meeting room for the Congregation of Lyon, the direct descendants of the order that Mother St. John gathered together after they were dispersed due to persecution of during the French Revolution. Last May, Line was installed here as a member of the Congregation's leadership team.
The fresco on the left depicts that death of St. Joseph with Jesus on his right and Mary kneeling at his side on his left. The Double Trinity is featured in the sanctuary with God as king, the Holy Spirit across his heart and Jesus on the cross. The second trinity is the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Double Trinity is key to the spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
The sisters were largely spellbound by all the artifacts in the history room and in the chapel. They spent time gazing at the rich symbolism found in the chapel as Line points out its more important features. (L to R) Joan and Jeanette (Philadelphia) and Nadine (Orange).
Grave of Mother St. John Fontbonne
"Here are your daughters," said Line, as though she were introducing the sisters to Mother St. John Fontbonne. It was a moving experience to be at the grave of the sisters' founder after the French Revolution when sisters disbanded in order to save their lives.
The sisters are concerned about the declining numbers in their congregations. However, these daughters of Mother St. John are ready and willing to tackle the job ahead of them to re-found the congregation in new ways.
Sisters Zaida and Geno take a few pebbles from the gravesite for their sisters back home in Peru. These pebbles are continuously replenished for sisters to take with them.
It had been a long day in Lyon, however, the sisters were all smiles upon their return to the International Centre--and a nice French-style meal. Here Fabiola (Congo) descends from the bus (or giant van) that transported the sisters.
Celeste (Philadelphia) indulged herself in French escargot (snails) at lunch time in Lyon and enjoyed them immensely. During the retreat she did several watercolors of scenes around Le Puy.
Walking to Mass
Saturday night Mass at the Centre's local parish includes a 30-minute hike through the streets of Le Puy. Here are Janet Mock, retreat director, and Mary (Carondelet), interpreter for the Peruvian sisters.
Before the retreat began, the sisters met each other and shared some hors d'oeuvres.
(L to R) Jeanette and Joan (Philadelphia), Geno (Peru), and Nadine (Orange)
Mary Ellen (Brentwood) and Joan (Philadelphia) listen intently to someone waxing eloquently.
Donna (Philadelphia) and Jeanne (Brentwood) share a moment.
Janet talks with Celeste and Simone (Institute), who served as French interpreter for Fabiola.
Mary Ellen (Brentwood), Linda (Orange) and Jeanette (Philadelphia) talk about how excited they are to participate in the retreat.