Greetings from the Aix-en-Provence Foundation House community!
We would like to share with you some news from us.
March 18, 2020 was the date set by the French government to confine the country due to the “small but mighty” virus called Covid-19. The lockdown forced us to cancel all the sessions planned for 2020: the De Mazenod Experience in French and English, the formation of post-novitiate superiors, the summer session for scholastics, the youth meetings, and the Oblate Brothers’ meeting. All were cancelled!
Since then the house is ‘empty’ but the community has continued to live!
This allowed us to strengthen the bonds among ourselves, to get to know each other better, to live the words of the Founder: “charity, charity, charity”, without forgetting the following: “outside, zeal for the salvation of men”.
During this time, we took initiatives to help the faithful of the Mission Church.
We kept the church open every day with the Blessed Sacrament exposed for a time of recollection and peace before the Lord for those in distress, in difficult and upsetting situations. We were one of the few churches in the city open all day.
We also made ourselves available for listening and for the sacrament of reconciliation, by appointment, and we set up a blog to keep the links with the Mazenodian Family, without forgetting all the accompaniment of the students of the Frat-Mazenodienne who live the university year with us.
On the administrative level, the association International Eugene de Mazenod Center (CIEM) which had been created in 2011 has been dissolved and it is the Endowment Fund of the Foundation House of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate which has taken over.
As we entered the year 2021, we thought that the situation would improve! But it did not. We had to cancel all the programs again or postpone the one from the previous year, or even booked long ago for this year.
We cancelled the French “De Mazenod Experience” in the spring and even the English one in the fall. The session for Post-Novitiate Superiors scheduled for July is being held in Rome, directly by the General Administration.
We are holding only one session for the month of August, the one for scholastics coming from the European scholasticates (International Scholasticate of Rome, Vermicino in Italy and Obra in Poland).
The pandemic is deeply affecting us… The pandemic forces us to adapt…
And the pandemic directs us to two words: solidarity and sensitivity.
We are called to be in solidarity with the suffering world…
And we are called to be sensitive to the situation of people today, where we find people everywhere facing difficulties and problems in health and finances, in particular.
Being aware of the world situation today, we have modified the program for the rest of the year and for next year… God willing… because we do not know what might happen in the coming months.
Therefore, instead of a “De Mazenod Experience” in September-November, we are considering a “Training for Future Aix Animators” program. This program is especially intended for those who are called to be animators of the de Mazenod Experience in the coming years.
We are also thinking of organizing a session on interculturality in November or December. We will specify later on as we see the evolution of the pandemic after the summer.
And for the year 2022, we have changed the languages of the De Mazenod Experience (DMX):
- In the spring (April 20-June 16) there will be a DMX in ENGLISH
- In the fall (September 14 to November 10) a DMX in SPANISH
We hope to be able to realize these programs!
Thank you for your prayers for our community, which is without some of its members physically present in Aix at the moment. Bonga and Jean-Marie are in Africa and Mario is in Italy for a hip operation.
Laudetur Jesus Christus et Maria Immaculata!
The community of the Foundation House in Aix en Provence
(Benoit DOSQUET, Jo BOIS, Mario BRANDI, Bonga MAJOLA, Jean-Marie DIAKANOU, and Asodo ISTOYO)