1 Faith and Light International Up Sails! N 8 8 December 2010 Happiness at being chosen Contents Editorial Happiness at being chosen Celebrations Reports Board of Directors Meeting Three days full of colours A small family starts Special moments Trust, Yamna Mini retreat at Our Lady of Atlas Look after Renata An exemplary request for recognition Initiatives Testimonies from Greece International Agenda Artist s corner Family Album Reader s Letters International Solidarity Conference available on CD and DVD (in French). Text in English and Spanish. To order to the International secretariat : December 8, I was invited by OCH (Christian office for the handicapped) to give a conference on the occasion of the coming 40th Anniversary of Faith and Light. The theme chosen was Happiness at being chosen. At the end of this year of 2010, on the eve of world wide celebrations for the 40 th anniversary of Faith and Light, let us rejoice and be full of joy! First, we are going to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus, God made man! Let us rejoice in the happiness of Mary who was chosen to be the mother of Christ, for her yes put us all on the road to salvation! In 2011, 40 years after the foundation of our movement, let us rejoice at being called to follow Jesus in a Faith and Light community, let us all share together this happiness, this joy that we have found there. May the yes that invites us to say the Faith and Light prayer be a spontaneous, enthusiastic and communicative yes, a yes of membership that leads us to become the messengers of this joy that denotes the life of communities, this joy that is part of our identity! So this joy, this blessing that we are all going to witness, it is that of having been chosen in our poverty, in our madness, in our distress and our misery to be friends with each other as well as becoming friends of Jesus. It is the small, the weak and the mad that he has chosen to confuse the great, the strong and the wise. Blessed are you the poor in spirit because it is you that God has chosen to own his Kingdom! It should not be said that we are blessed because we are disabled, because we are the parents of a person with an intellectual disability, that would be a contradiction; I would never say to a person with an intellectual disability: You must be happy to be disabled, give thanks to God!, not ever! The disability must remain what it is: an outrage, a cause of anger and of tears. However, Jesus is waiting to comfort us in our poverty! If we know how to be humble enough to recognise our wounds and not hide them or suppress them, then our calls for help will be heard and will be answered. Jesus may not respond directly but he will do it by means of his angels who sometimes take human form! If the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, it was probably because she prayed and called often upon God and God watched over his humble servant. We have all met people in our lives who have come to bring us support and comfort; when Gérard and Camille returned from Lourdes full of pain and suffering at not having been accepted, who would have believed that Jean Vanier and Marie- Hélène Mathieu would be on their road? Therefore, yes, be happy that you were chosen to carry to the world the message of joy of Faith and Light! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy anniversary and joyous pilgrimages. Ghislain du Chéné International Coordinator In the joy of Faith and Light 40 th anniversary, wholeheartedly wish you a merry Christmas! May Jesus who is revealed in the little ones, make us messengers of joy throughout the year Faith and Light International 3 rue du Laos Paris France T
2 Page Celebrations A banner for the provinces! The official launch of the Faith and Light 40 th anniversary celebrations will take place on 2 February, the day of the Festival of Light. Meeting in Lourdes for their first Council meeting, the province coordinators will receive a banner. (We let the provinces make the stick.) On one side will be a design symbolising 40 years of the movement. But what does it mean? The Faith and Light boat landed. It no longer remains in the water but on the land. The characters have also taken their leave. They have got off the boat and gone on a farandole to announce Faith and Light to the world in messengers of joy. They have left following Jesus, Light of the world! The other side is blank. Each province will be able to show: Faith and Light in their own language or several languages the name of the province an illustration symbolising their province. The canvas can be painted, embroidered To display the banner, some advice: Use a 2.3m pole with a 20cm spearhead. It can represent a cross, a star, a boat the banner is fixed 1.50 m up the pole from the ground the material (75 cm x 60 cm) is fixed on a cross section 80 cm from the spearhead 2,30 m 60 cm 20 cm 75 cm Drawing realized bu Céline Doudelle on Ghislain du Chéné original idea. 1,50 m Amongst the many pilgrimages that are setting off September 2011: Syria province to Saydnaya (Syria) 28 October-1 November 2011: Earth and Sea (Spain North) province to Santiago de Compostela 28 April 1 May 2012: Luzitania (Portugal), Seas and Volcanoes (Italy South and Galilee), River of Peace (Italy North), Campo Belo (Brazil Centre), Reborn (Brazil North East) and Bridge of Friendship (Brazil South, Argentina, Paraguay)provinces to Our Lady of Fatima (Portugal) May 2012: France East province to Lisieux (France) May: France Entre Deux Mers, France Center, Rainbow (Indian Ocean) and Light of the Orient provinces to Lourdes (France) May 2012: France West province to Saint Anne of Auray (France) 1-4 November 2012: Belgium and Danube provinces to Banneux (Belgium) Theme-song of the pilgrimages Messengers of joy Music and lyrics: Louis-Marie Grimaud CD available soon from the International Secretariat 5 each - 40 for 10 Find all the documents, mails, dispatches... In the intranet of the Faith and Light International website: or by writing to Visit the Facebook group "Foi et Lumière a 40 ans", where you can find news from communities, pictures, videos...
3 Celebrations Page 3 But where is that and why? Santiago de Compostela (in the north of Spain), whose cathedral houses the remains of the Apostle Saint James, is one of the three most important pilgrimages for a Christian after Jerusalem and Rome. Since the X th century, pilgrims have walked to Santiago de Compostela, making stopovers in monasteries, and carrying a scallop shell as testimony of their pilgrimage. More than pilgrims walk to Compostela every year. Lisieux (in the north of France). Thérèse Martin entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux in 1888 at the age of fifteen. In 1898, France discovered the spiritual message of this young Carmelite nun, who died aged 24, through her autobiography The story of a soul. Through her message of smallness, she opened a way to holiness to all the poor, small and injured: accepting the reality of your weakness and offering yourself to God just as you are so that He may act in us. Declared by Pope Pius X as the greatest saint of modern times, little Thérèse was then proclaimed patron saint of the missions and the second patron saint of France. She was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1997 during the WYD in Paris. Her fame spread throughout the world and ever more pilgrims still flock to the Basilica. Our Lady of Fatima (in the middle of Portugal) appeared six times in 1917 to some young shepherds: Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia. Mary told them to pray for peace and the conversion of men. The apparitions were recognised by the Catholic Church in Pope John Paul II, the victim of an assassination attempt on 13 May 1981, the saints day of Our Lady of Fatima, thanked the Virgin for having miraculously saved his life and went there twice, in 1982 and in Saint Anne of Auray (in the north west of France), Saint Anne, mother of Mary has been venerated in this place since the V th century. In 1625, Anne appeared to a labourer, Yves Nicolazic, and asked him to rebuild a chapel dedicated to her. At the place indicated by Saint Anne, he discovered a very old statue of her. The news of this discovery spread quickly and thousands of people rushed to Bocenno on 7 March 1625, the first pilgrimage. For four centuries, the devotion and the crowds are such that a basilica will be erected that can accommodate the 800,000 pilgrims who go there each year. Saydnaya, (in Syria, 30 km north of Damascus). In 547, the Virgin appeared to the Byzantine emperor Justinian 1 asking him to build a sanctuary. Tradition says that on this mountain, Cain killed his brother Abel. The sanctuary houses many very old documents and works of arts including a miraculous icon of Mary, painted by Saint Luke and known as the Shaghurah. Many Catholic, Syriac Catholic and Orthodox pilgrims as well as Muslims go to Saydnaya on a pilgrimage. Our Lady of Banneux (in the east of Belgium). From 15 January to 2 March 1933, Mary who is presented as the Virgin of the poor appeared eight times to a small girl, Mariette Beco. The Virgin asked that a small chapel be built and declared: I come to relieve suffering. A spring appeared. The reality of the apparitions and the message was recognised in Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims come every year to confide in Our Lady of the poor and dip their hands in the spring to draw Jesus, the true life.
4 Page 4 Report Board of Directors Meeting The Board of Directors met in Paris at the end of last September. We were all present, a fine representation of Faith and Light throughout the world, with members from Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East and Africa. On the agenda, a host of subjects, big and small, including the celebrations, formation sessions, finances, general administration and the life and development of Faith and Light in the world. An important part of any meeting of the Board of Directors is the report from the International Coordinator on the life of Faith and Light in the provinces, prepared from his meetings and communication with the various province coordinators and from the reports and contacts of the international vice coordinators. There have been many events in 2010 since the previous BD meeting in March 2010 in Trosly. Almost all the 50 provinces have now held their first Province assembly in accordance with the new Constitution. A whole new generation has put itself into service in a role of responsibility. This bodes well for the future of Faith and Light. The international formation sessions, which were still at the project stage last March, had been mostly completed by September The project team worked tirelessly to offer quality formation in all parts of the world where Faith and Light had taken root. It was Hong Kong in May, San Paulo (Brazil) and Zembrzyce (Poland) in July, Lima (Peru) in August. At the time, Ciney (Belgium) and Alexandria (Egypt) in November are still left to do. More than 250 people from more than 30 provinces of all continents, province coordinators, vice coordinators and chaplains, members of the Board of Directors and some province nomination committees and others were able to benefit from this exceptional formation. The effort in human and financial resources was immense, but I am sure that the results will be important to the future of Faith and Light. Other sessions will be offered next year for the other From left to right: Louis de Vogüé, Denise Audet-Gravel, Ghislain du Chéné, Marie-Hélène Mathieu (who has joined us for lunch), Henri Major, Père Isaac Martinez, Corinne Chatain, Yves-Bertin Hirwa, Claude Gravel and Roland Tamraz provinces and on a regular basis in the future on other subjects, according to need. The Board of Directors was able to observe all the work carried out at the international level and in the provinces in preparation for the celebrations. Nineteen pilgrimages are being prepared for across the world in 2011; the meeting of the Council of Coordinators in Lourdes in January 2011 to launch the years of celebration; seven Dispatches have already been sent; the preparation of a Pilgrim s booklet to feed the various pilgrimages from one source; the opening of the 40 years of Faith and Light pages on Facebook to announce various events; the preparation of a PowerPoint presentation to announce Faith and Light; the selection of a theme song for the pilgrimages... and I could go on. Administration and finance were also at the heart of the Board s deliberations. Faced with an acknowledgement of an alarming decline in the payment of contributions from the provinces in 2010, the Board looked into the causes of this lowering and studied solutions to counter this worrying trend. The management of funds spent has been tightened and a more thorough follow-up on spending and allocation of funds requested. Nevertheless, the Board has decided to go ahead with the opening of a new website for Faith and Light International and to grant a contract to this end with BayardMedia.com. The current site has served well for the past ten years but it was outdated, difficult to maintain and modify and does not offer the new functionalities invented since its opening and that internet users today expect to find. The mandates of several international vice-coordinators nominated in Lourdes in 2008 are ending this year so the Board has gone ahead with the nomination of four new vice international coordinators on the recommendation of the International Coordinator and chosen from the candidates selected and validated by the International Nomination Committee. Always thinking of the future, the Board has launched the selection process for the location of the next international General Assembly in And with the intention of strengthening its links with the OCH (Christian Office of the handicapped ), its main backer, the Board has assessed OCH projects to make Faith and Light more visible within its own Board of Directors and is going to propose OCH to join ours. Finally, members of the Board started a mid-mandate evaluation of the work carried out to date and begin a reflection on the situation of Faith and Light today in the light of the priorities set by the Lourdes General Assembly in Several of the priorities set in 2008 are well on their way to fruition. The animated and shared discussion has shown the interest of all to want what is best for Faith and Light throughout the world and also the deep desire of each person to find the best strategies and means to realise the directions given by the General Assembly. Henri Major President
5 Report Page 5 Three days full of colours From 12 to 15 September, delegations from the Colours of Asia province (Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines) met at Cavite, near Manila for their Province Assembly. The theme of this meeting was: Answering the call of the Shepherd.». The meeting began early evening on Sunday 12 th Sept. with a celebration of Eucharistic by Philippines Cardinal Rosales and national chaplain Fr. Roly Augustin, supported by Philippines F&L members. This was followed by the evening meal, an occasion for celebration as provincial delegates greeted friends old and new, sharing their news and stories during the meal. It was good to see so many parents with their special family members attending the assembly Malaysia were well represented with nine people making the trip to Manila. For many it was the first time they had travelled by plane. Singapore was also particularly well represented by Mabel and Max, two disabled people who brought joy, colour and fun to the Province Assembly. Max did not stop dancing, sharing his talents with others and talked endlessly! Next morning after the welcome, Mabel addressed the assembly about the objectives of the meeting. The days of the assembly were to be given to preparation and voting for the election of a new Provincial Coordinator and the Provincial Team. This began with input on the discernment process from the Vice- International Coordinator Elaine Swain with questions and discussion to follow. There was much discussion about the discernment process. The afternoon session was planned to give delegates an opportunity to meet the nominees. Elaine gave some guidelines on how this was to happen so that everyone would be comfortable. Valerie Jacques, from Malaysia, was voted in as Provincial Coordinator and her Yes to the call was greeted with much joy. The Vice Provincial Coordinators were elected by the assembly also. They are Luisa from Malaysia; Alaric from Singapore; Anne, Randy and Mabel from the Philippines. The Provincial Team with Valerie as Provincial Coordinator, now has three new V ic e Provincial Coordinators plus two others who were part of the previous team with Mabel. This gives a good balance to the newly elected team who are all eager to work together for the future well being of the province. A time of thanksgiving for the new Provincial Team began with a celebration of the Eucharist with Fr. Roly. Valerie with her team were then missioned and blessed by Fr. Roly and the assembly to begin their new mandate. A highlight of these two days of meeting came after the evening meal when everyone gathered in the meeting room to socialise, dance and enter into team games. The fun and laughter from all these activities did much to lighten our spirits before we made our way to our rooms and bed. Morning and evening prayers were carefully prepared to echo the theme for each day. These times of silence, reflection and prayer were both nourishing and peaceful renewing our spirits and reminding us of God s ever loving presence in our lives. A fiesta planned for the last day brought many F&L members from the communities in Manila. Mabel and the previous provincial team were featured in a video depicting highlights of their activities with F&L in the Philippines. The assembly expressed their thanks and appreciation to Mabel and her team for all the time and energy they shared with their communities during the past few years. Valerie the new Provincial Coordinator and the new Provincial Team were introduced and affirmed in their roles with much enthusiasm and joy. Our celebration ended with singing, prayer and a blessing. Elaine Swain former vice-international coordinator Valerie Jacques has been a Faith and Light friend since She was national correspondent for Malaysia, then a member of the province team guiding the Bangladeshi and Malaysian communities. Valerie is a psychologist. Selamat Datang, Valerie!
6 Page 6 A small family starts A new community started on Saturday 16 October in Dapaong in the north of Togo. It was some time ago that Father Joan Soler, who is a missionary there, requested the documentation to start a community. He got to know of Faith and Light in Spain, in Gijon, and took part in a pilgrimage to Lourdes where he was touched by the testimony of Jean Vanier. Last February, he said: I am in the process of getting to know all the people with an intellectual disability in the new parish that we are creating and, God willing, next year we are going to begin a group inspired by Faith and Light. If it goes well, afterwards we will be asking to join the movement, but we need to tread carefully because as the saying goes: A long journey starts with a small step. And I have found here a lot of small steps, all these special little ones with whom we are going to start a little family. And then, last week, I received the news! The community was going to start on 16 October! If it is God s will, next Saturday, 16 October, the Faith and Light group in Dapaong in Togo will begin. There are nine people with their families, friends and others and I believe that it is the moment to finally start. That is to say, pray a lot so that the movement truly becomes a light for these little ones in Dapaong and that it makes everyone s faith grow. And today, here is the first report: Dear Ghislain, the group got off to a good start. There were five disabled people with their parents and friends; I was really happy because I didn t know if they were going to come. The movement was introduced to them, we read the gospel, we prayed and we shared something to eat. Now, the parents who came were truly happy and they told me that they were going to encourage others. I have sent you two photos, one of the whole group and the other of the Reports young people who put together a small drama to depict the emblem of Faith and Light. Let us keep this little community in our prayers! GdC Special moments From 24 to 26 September last, almost 80 members of the Canada East province met in Cap-de-la- Madeleine for the annual province meeting. With the theme All pilgrims at the call of the Lord, we went back to our roots by remembering the history of Faith and Light with a mime. Everyone was deeply touched. This mime, prepared in a workshop, brought the story of Loïc and Thaddée to life for us in a convincing way. Other workshops, such as How to prepare a visual aid, Gestures for the theme song, Group sharing for parents, Group sharing for friends and Group sharing for chaplains were appreciated by everyone. Our new province chaplain, Pierre Desroches, was able to present the Guidelines to us in a living and enriching way. On Saturday evening, with our different shaped hats and some well chosen songs, the fiesta invited us to board the pilgrimage boat with each of our coordinators. Very original and appreciated by everyone. The testimonies of a mum, her disabled daughter and a friend were the high point of our meeting. The whole thing ended with a thanksgiving celebration for the gift that is Faith and Light. Entrusted with a lit candle, the participants left with the mission of sharing the light with their respective communities and to direct special attention to the setting up of trios. Thank you to the province team for their beautiful work and to all the communities for taking part in this meeting. Finally, THANK YOU to all of you, members of the large Faith and Light family, you have proved during this weekend that the Canada East province is VERY ALIVE! Coordination Team Canada East Province
7 Report Page 7 Trust, Yamna I met Yamna on 29 October in Midelt (Morocco). She is a specialist teacher and founded an association, The road to life that welcomes children with an intellectual disability. She proposes educational activities: psychometrics, various types of learning and games. Yamna is also in contact with the Franciscan sisters and with the monks from Our Lady of Atlas. Through them, she learned what we were experiencing in our Faith and Light communities, it pleased her and she adapted the operation to the cultural and religious environment of Morocco. On 29 December 2009, Tiqa (trust, in Arabic) was born and the meetings are held regularly (see issue 5 of Up Sails!). I was, therefore, very happy to be able to attend one of the Tiqa meetings. There were 18 of us: 7 disabled children, parents (only mums and sisters) and two friends including Yamna. The meeting began with a time of sharing on the question: How does the Word of God help parents of disabled children? It all took place in Arabic and the discussions were lively. Yamna took the time to translate everything for me. There was then a tea then a time of prayer. If this reminds you of something, it isn t by chance! This is what I wrote to Yamna on my return: I warmly thank you for your welcome and kindness! The meeting was a memorable time for me. To realise that the intuition of the founders of Faith and Light can be applied to other religions is a confirmation for me. I do indeed believe that the disabled person can be revealed as a source of unity, can gather around them people with goodwill so that together, we celebrate the infinite value of life! The following day, we met for tea in the town with Yamna and Lamia. Lamia is 14 years old and has Downs Syndrome. Her dad left when she was born and she has known only sorrow. She was very happy (and I too ) to be able to walk in the street holding my hand! GdC Mini retreat at Our Lady of Atlas Thou hast created us for Thyself and our heart is not quiet until it rests in Thee. This quote from Saint Augustine, a great Christian figure from North Africa, resonates in me after four days spent with the Trappist monks of Atlas in Midelt. There are few monks, three: the prior, Jean-Pierre Flachaire, Brother Jean-Pierre Schumacher, the last of the Tibhirine monks and the innkeeper brother, Jose-Luis. But their life of gift, abandonment and precarious and fragile presence, their wish to be with, to be the praying ones in the middle of praying ones reveals a power to move mountains! Mountains that are very present around Midelt and reach up to more than 3000 metres, (already covered in snow this season), this monastery being at an altitude of 1500 metres. Here is the framework in which the monks very warmly welcomed me: I give thanks for all that I experienced by their side: A time of prayer by taking part in services (I never took part in the 4 hour morning vigils.) and Eucharists. A time of sharing where I was invited to tell to the monks, meeting in the Chapter, who I am and what is Faith and Light. Brother Jean-Pierre, the prior, told me that he had had a Downs sister to whom he was very close. The monks assured me of their prayers for Faith and Light and I entrusted to them most particularly the work of the international coordination team, as each community is invited to twin with another religious community. The ICT now has its own. A time of friendship with several conversations in the monastery courtyard and special moments like the daily 10am meeting where the workers who work on the repair of a building (an extension to the hostel) invite the monks and the visitors to share mint tea and a sardine sandwich: it is what is called the enlarged community there. And a truly restful time where I was able to take the time to reflect on the content of the lecture that the OCH has invited me to give in December. On the day of departure, there was a disturbance in the town! And for good reason, it was the day of a visit from the king! The town was covered with Moroccan flags flapping nearly everywhere and thousands of people descending on the town to attend this great event. The monastery was also covered with a Moroccan flag and a portrait of the king above the entrance door. I have surprised myself several times by thinking of the time spent in this community and thinking they are in the chapel at the moment in the process of singing mass and I add my prayer to theirs in this invisible monastery where I feel I am taking a small part. See you very soon, inch Allah! GdC
8 Page 8 Report Look after Renata It can happen that a province assembly meets only one year after the previous one. That is what happened in the Poland Centre East province, following the resignation of the coordinator elected in May The communities met, therefore, from 15 to 17 October in Kanie Helenowskie, near Warsaw. The theme of the meeting was The community, a place of joy and forgiveness. On the first evening, Joanna Koczot explained to us how the carpenter can give his tools harmony and joy by working together when it comes to creating a communal work: we were all a plane, a hammer, a saw, etc and we scorned our neighbour, sure that we were the best tool! And the cradle that we made (virtually..) was very beautiful and we were proud of this communal production. The following morning, it was time for a talk from Father Pawel, province chaplain, on the theme of the meeting and I then followed on by talking about the anniversary of Faith and Light and the pilgrimages: I explained how to prepare well, how to make the most of the days spent together and how to continue to experience the momentum given for these anniversary celebrations. The afternoon was dedicated to the time of discernment and voting. It was not necessary to re-work the province priorities, those defined in 2009 were still valid. The nomination committee introduced Renata Nader, the only person having agreed to stand for election: the others called had the opportunity to explain and tell why they were unable to accept the request. Renata was elected and this election was joyfully celebrated. I gave Renata a rose, asking the communities to look after Renata as she was going to look after her rose. The following morning, the Eucharist was celebrated and then it was over. I was happy to take part in this province assembly. I was able to gauge the joy and enthusiasm of those present., I appreciated the maturity with which the assembly welcomed the presentation of the work done by the Nomination Committee, I enjoyed speaking with Basia, the former province coordinator, returned from a year spent in Zambia on a mission with the Salesian sisters (with some beautiful photos of a very beautiful country!!), but I thought it unfortunate that almost half the communities did not come and I considered the work to be done by the province team to give back impetus and enthusiasm to this province. Thank you to Renata, a young coordinator (30 years old) for having accepted this mission and a huge thank you to Beata for having provided the translations from Polish to French and from French to Polish for the whole weekend! GdC Renata Nader is a friend in Faith and Light since 11 years. She was community leader and vice provincial coordinator. «Witamy», Renata! Let us rejoice and sing for him Renata Nader from Warsaw has been chosen as province coordinator for the next three years. During this meeting, the Council nominated two vice provincial coordinators to guide the nine Lublin communities: Sylwia Kowalczyk and Agnieszka Czusz. For this very special discernment moment, Ghislain du Chéné was with us. For me personally, it has once more been a time of grace where I could experience of God, our Father, looking after us all the time. I am very grateful to the Nomination Committee for their magnificent work and for leading the discernment process. I want to express my gratitude to all those present for their affection, their gentleness and kindness. When I think again of the time at Kanie Helenowskie, a song comes from my spirit: Look at this great love received from our Father in heaven. Let us rejoice and sing for him, alleluia! With all my love. Joanna Koczot, Vice International Coordinator
9 Report Page 9 An exemplary request for recognition The Venez et Voyez (Come and See) community has requested its recognition by presenting a large drawing and numerous letters during the France Centre province assembly last September. Here are a few extracts from these letters! For me, Faith and Light is a movement where differences do not exist I almost gave up but finally I realised that I belonged. It is a life bond where everyone is accepted as they are, a place of sharing suffering and joy, a place where we pray together, we celebrate Why do I want to belong to Faith and Light: when Joris said at Faith and Light, you are always very welcome, everyone asks for our news, no-one makes fun of us, when Marc said: at Faith and Light, it is always a celebration for tea, everyone is happy to get together For all these reasons, I can no longer drop Faith and Light And what joy to spread a little happiness around me, a way of living the message of Christ. With my weaknesses and my im- perfections, my moments of exhaustion and despondency, but with the joy of heading forward to the 40 th year of Faith and Light. I want to continue the adventure for François, Jessie, Joris, Marc, Marie, Lucie, François, Annick, Anne-France. And for all those others who will join us. Faith and Light is very important to me. I find a large family within this association, the family of Christ. I am always welcomed, with open arms, my disabled child and myself even if, because of my separation, I cannot come all the time. I always have the feeling that I have only left them for the evening, never a word of reproach. The arms are always open with the joy of meeting, it is like Mary who always holds open arms full of kindness to me. This support, this listening, this comfort and this Love with a capital L, I have only encountered them here and now at Faith and Light, thanks to God, I have found a family; with them the disability no longer exists. Thank you, the outlook has changed. The community is going to celebrate its official recognition in the presence of Mgr Maillard, on 9 January, with a Eucharist followed by a celebratory meal.. A request for recognition for a community is not an administrative formality; it is a cry from the heart that must be made in the joy of joining the large family of Faith and Light communities, like that written above. So, may the Venez et Voyez (Come and See) community serve as a model to many more! GdC Initiatives 31 December s Eve As every year, Faith and Light communities in Paris organize an evening Eve for all those who are alone this special evening. The program starts with the Holy Communion at 7pm ( St Pierre du Gros Caillou in Paris ), then there is a dinner show (12 rue Pierre Villey). This year it will be particularly festive to emphasize the start of the 40 th anniversary celebrations, with a show called God Almighty s clown! Good evening everyone!
10 Page 10 Testimonies from Greece When I look at a disabled child and he smiles at me, I become aware of having offered him joy and his joy fills my soul. I realise that if I am not at the next meeting, everyone will miss me These children oblige me to always attend. It is about the priorities in my life. The one who commits to the community, becomes better, stronger, surer and more mature. It is an experience that can change a man. You gain so much through a smile or when a disabled person hugs you! I have learned to accept it and that gives me a lot of strength they should be thanked because they offer us a very different perspective on the world around us. Thanks to disabled people, you can reassess your life. I do not yet have children. However, with the experience of the Faith and Light community, if I know, before birth, that my child will be disabled, yes, I would like to keep him.. Offer a smile, a little love through a single word, it isn t hard But who does it these days? Imagine what joy can be offered to disabled people through a smile, a day together, and a little love. It is all that they need to be happy. Look at us: you always need more things and you are never happy enough. These people teach us a real lesson and a courageous testimony for our life. The Faith and Light community offers my son and me a few precious hours of respite when we meet. I have no-one to help me, I am alone in life and always think that I am getting older by the day. At least there is Faith and Light. Those who make the commitment really love the disabled children. I know that when I meet community friends, my son is happy, he is smiling! I have tried to send my son to public institutions for disabled children but I have noticed that the staff do not treat the children really well. There is a strong love that is born between mother and disabled child that doesn t permit leaving him with just any one. In this community, I have found a true love of these children. It is not easy to travel with a disabled child when you are alone. I cannot take a bus because the other passengers would be disturbed by the presence of my son who can have fits at any time. Who could offer him a trip or a walk? Fortunately my friend suggested I go to a Faith and Light community. There, I found love and joy. My son is happy to meet members of the community. It is strange but I have the feeling of family bonds in this community. Extracts of testimonies from the Anoichtoi Orizontes magazine, issue on Faith and Light Agenda for the 1 st trimester of January-2 February, Lourdes, France: Coordinators Council meeting 2 February, Lourdes, France: official launch of 40 th anniversary celebrations 2 February, Paris, France: Conference by Jean Vanier at Unesco, 125 Suffren ave. at 8pm 4-7 February, Der Dronka, Egypt: Egypt North Sudan, Egypt South Kuwait, Syria and France Rhone Auvergne province pilgrimage to celebrate 40 years of Faith and Light February, Sao Paulo, Brazil: Bridge of friendship province coordination team meeting March, Ciney, Belgium: formation session for the Belgian community leaders and coordination team
11 Artists corner Page 11 All pilgrims A beautiful fresco from Poland This picture that we use at each meeting was made by Claire Picard, leader of the Les fleurs sauvages (Wild flowers) community in Gatineau (Quebec). The bottoms of the tunics are made from photos of Faith and Light across the world. The four people walking symbolise the 40 years of Faith and Light. Here is the present that my friend, Victorine Clément, gave me. She made this drawing from memory after the community meeting. Victorine has been part of the l Etoile (Star) Community in Montreal for 25 years. Faith and Light has become her second family. Victorine with her contagious smile, is very committed and rarely misses a meeting. She is a charming person who loves jewellery and has limitless admiration for the current pope as well as for John Paul II. She is always ready to give service to everyone and she often thinks to give us small presents that she has made herself. This brave woman is battling cancer at the moment, she lives alone and has many reasons to complain but she never does. Victorine is full of life and has a true artist s spirit. Thank you for allowing me to let you know about this woman with a heart of gold and to remember her most especially in your prayers. This canvas was made in August 2010 during the summer camp of the Dominki Bis community in Jaworzno community in Poland. The creators of this work are Father Lukasz Malkiewicz (with the yellow hat), community chaplain and Sister Maria Magdalena Kosinska, a Carmelite nun and friend of the community. Puppets in Denmark! Birgitt presented the story of the birth of Faith and Light with a puppet show. She made them herself: Jean Vanier, Marie-Hélène Matthieu, Loïc, Thaddée, Camille and Gérard, a policeman, a trader and a citizen of Lourdes. These are a few of the puppets. What a huge success! Suzanne Bélisle From Benin The emblem of the new community created on 30 January last: Our Lady of the people with a disability. Thank you for all these marvels! Continue to send us your work and we will publish them for the enjoyment of all.
12 Page 12 Family Album Thank you to the departing vice coordinators! For two and half days, the Board of Directors met in Paris and touched on a number of subjects. I gave a report on the province activities and I proposed the names of people who agreed to replace the vice coordinators whose mandate had expired: Elaine Swain, Hervé and Anne Cuche, Tim and Maria-Cecilia Buckley, Marie-Rose Lefrère. I would like to say a very big thank you to these six people who have worked hard since the Lourdes General Assembly: they have led 26 province assemblies, they have guided the provinces in the implementation of the new structures, they have been close to each province coordinator, ready to answer any questions, to calm fears and to encourage. And everything has been done with the qualities that the Holy Spirit communicated to them: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (cf. Ga 5, 22-23). They are going to pursue their path in Faith and Light in different ways, but still with devotion and loyalty to the commitment of being with the smallest: Elaine is part of the International Nomination Committee, very active in identifying successors for the vice coordinators who are leaving. Hervé and Anne are going to work with a small group dedicated to supporting the isolated African communities, particularly in Benin. Tim and Maria-Cecilia are going to pursue their work within the international formation team. Marie-Rose is going to return to her dear community la Petite Voie (the Small Way) but will surely be available to help those who are succeeding her! Once again, on behalf of all the provinces that they have accompanied, I say an enormous thank you. Welcome to the new vice coordinators! The International Nomination Committee made up of Maureen O Reilly, François Bal, Roy Moussalli and Elaine Swain has now almost completed its mission. The Board of Directors has approved the nomination as international vice coordinators of: Anne-Marie Pike (New Zealand) for the 3 provinces: Light of the Orient, Colours of Asia and Southern Cross. Fred Seagren (USA) for the provinces: Canada East and West and USA East and West. Anne-Marie is married to Roger; they have three children including John who has an intellectual disability. She is a teacher and was national coordinator for New Zealand for six years and vice provincial coordinator of Southern Cross province. She also collaborated to the creation of Marralomeda, a home for adults with an intellectual disability. Fred is married to Alice. They have t w o c h i l d r en a n d th r ee grandchildren. With his son Greg (who has a disability), Fred has been part of Faith and Light for 15 years. He was a community and regional leader, and vice coordinator and treasurer for the USA East province. Fred, now retired, worked in IT.
13 Family Album Page 13 Maria-Silvia de Jesus Tavarez (Brazil) for the 5 provinces: Jesus, Light of the Andes, Bridge of friendship, Open Hearts, Campo Belo and Reborn Maria-Silvia has been in Faith and Light since She has been national coordinator, then member of the formation team, and since 2009, provincial coordinator for Brazil Bridge of Friendship. Maria Silvia has also lived in l Arche of Sao Paulo and the Dominican Republic. She is a teacher with children with an intellectual disability. Agathe Desfossés (France) for the two Ile de France provinces, France North, France Sparkling East and Belgium. Agathe joined Faith and Light as a friend for the 2001 pilgrimage in Lourdes. ND de l Assomption community s member, she has been regional coordinator for Point du Jour in Paris in 2005 to Since 2009 she assisted Michel Tabbagh for Paris et Le Levant. Agathe is in charge of communication in a French industrial group. Ludovic de la Quintinie (France) for the provinces: France Entre deux Mers, France Loire-Rhône Auvergne, France Rhône Azur, France West and France Center. Ludovic is the brother of Emmanuel. He was the coordinator of the province France Entre deux Mers since A very interesting innovation of the province was to nominate a vice-coordinator for the accompaniment of starting communities. France Entre Deux Mers had hosted 2008 General Assembly. Ludovic had been an active part in the preparations. Ludovic is a wine-producer in the Bordeaux area. Exceptionnal event 2 February 2011, day of the Feast of the Lights And launch of the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of Faith and Light Conference by Jean Vanier on: Thirst for Peace To believe that peace is possible, at what cost? 8 pm, Unesco 125 Suffren ave Paris Conference organized by OCH. Informations: (33) communica- International Secretariat Thanks! Céline, from the International Secretariat asked Ghislain to explain to the coordinators, meeting in Ciney for the international formation session, the great importance of providing the information requested for the new data base. Mission accomplished...but she didn t ask that he go so far... Thanks to all of you who returned the forms, filled in. Céline hopes to finish this task in the coming weeks.
14 Page 14 Family Album Welcome to Nicaragua! It is with much joy that we wish to announce to the great international family of Faith and Light, the birth of the first community in Nicaragua. The coordinator, Désirée Roman, has a 34 years old brother with an intellectual disability. In December 2009, through l Arche, Désirée got in contact with me to tell me her wish to join Faith and Light. A small group of around 15 persons gathered regularly to think about and share Jean Vanier s texts. I went and met them with the first Guideline and explained them how to start. At last, on June 5, 2010, (a very special date for me as it is Victor Manuel s birthday, my husband now deceased), they had their first meeting. Ever since, every month, Désirée sends me a detailed report of their meetings with pictures. Today they prepare their sixth meeting. Father John accompanies the meetings which start with the Holy Communion, and gather between 25 and 30 people. Young friends take part to the meetings too. Let us pray so that the joy which is in them and in which they work, push them forward! In union of prayer. Elsa Gonzales Baltierra Province Open Hearts In Lourdes,, thanksgiving celebration for Martine After thirty years of mission at the welcome permanence created in Lourdes by OCH after the 1971 Faith and Light pilgrimage, Martine Guénard retires. Mass of thanksgiving celebrated by Bishop Jacques Perrier, Tarbes and Lourdes bishop, then reunion at the cave for a time of prayer with him and many volunteers who had from nearly everywhere and many friends from Lourdes. Martine has created so many links with everyone by her unwavering hope, her love and her joy. Then there was a festive lunch with sketches, poems, songs, testimonials of gratitude, joy and humour. Thank you so much Martine, let this new step on your road with Tim be full of your gifts, one of them being to regive life to those who are weak and who often scream even without knowing it, for peace and happiness. A new Martine (Diallo) takes over after 15 years of work together with Martine (Guénard). Good road for you and your team, continue to bear light and peace in this blessed place.. Marie-Hélène Mathieu The legion of honor to Marie-Thérèse Leroux Marie-Thérèse is one of the oldest member of Faith and Light. She participated to the first pilgrimage in 1971 with a group of pupils from Sainte Marie in Blois, twinned with a group of young people with down syndrome. In 1979, when she was asked to start a community in Blois, for the coming pilgrimage in 1981, she was completely seduced by Faith and Light, and her husband Etienne, then one by one all her five children got engaged. She has been community coordinator, then regional coordinator then provincial coordinator. With Etienne, they had other initiatives for the people with an intellectual disability find their unique place and necessary in our society and in our church. On last October 15, she had invited me to give her her cross for the legion of honor, France symbol recognition for all her services. A very simple celebration gathering the notables, different association representatives, her family of course, her friends and Faith and Light community of Blois. It is an ageing community waiting for new members, hoping for a new growth in spring to celebrate the 40 years of Faith and Light. Thank you Marie Thérèse, Alléluia from all Faith and Light for your red ribbon. MHM
15 Readers Letters Page 15 It warms the heart A big, big thank you for giving us news from various communities in the world, to us the former leaders it warms the heart. May the Holy Spirit continue to spread to the four corners of the world and may these pilgrimages that are being prepared to celebrate the 40 years of Faith and Light be times where the stars carry on shining. With all my friendship and good luck to you. Marie-Jeanne ROHAN France Loire Rhone Auvergne What happiness! The meeting has been very successful. Five new young people came and committed for the year!!! Can you believe it? Unbelievable They are about twenty years old and three of them are students and live in the St Léon halls. They are truly adorable. There were more than thirty of us and the renewal of commitment to Faith and Light with our chaplain was successful. Each person wandered along the long fresco placed on the floor where we drew our feet, up to the Father who symbolised the goal of our pilgrimage (Lourdes for Easter 2011). The Chaplain placed a shell around the neck of each person. To accompany the walk of each person, the community repeated the refrain of Messengers of Joy. Everyone joined in the song very quickly. It was successful because it was easy to remember and the melody is very lively. What happiness!!! From Rwanda Céline Doudelle Notre Dame du Magnificat, Paris The Saint Paul community in Kigali greets you and thanks you again for sending the Marie-Hélène DVD, 35 years of history. We are still in a year of pilgrimage especially in this holy place of Kibeho. Greetings to all. Faith and Light in Ambohimanala Godeberthe Our small community in Ambohimanala, la source du bien (the spring of good), in the southern suburbs of Antananarivo was created less than a year ago around Carmel St Joseph where I am a nun and physiotherapist (in Madagascar for 2 years). It is made up of about ten families with young disabled children (from 3 to 10 years old) plus a young person aged 22 years, accompanied by their many brothers and sisters. They have heard of Faith and Light through the physio and awakening workshop. The majority come from a very poor background (like 90% of the population) where it is a struggle to feed the family everyday. Liva, 22 years old, sat on the ground by his doorstep, with his poor body all deformed. His mum carries on her head the baked terracotta bricks that are used to build houses. This work is hard and she must often leave Liva alone. His meeting with Faith and Light has lit up his life. There he is no longer alone, he is not rejected and Liva has found his beautiful smile (he does not speak, but understands everything). The community is ecumenical because several families come from various protestant churches. The meetings are a source of exchanges between the mums (and one dad) and gradually they come to share their joy and especially their difficulties. The mums are often rejected by their own family, even by their husband because of their disabled child The community is still small and fragile. There is not yet a coordination team. Sister Angeline, a Madagascan, helps me to lead because I hardly speak the language and I am very disabled by this! The families still do not meet a lot outside of the Sunday afternoon meetings once a month. I entrust them to your prayers. Sr Cécile (French) The tent of the meeting Our tent is small. In it we put our small personal guidelines in which we have written our prayers intentions. Sabine Arduino Notre Dame du Bassin, France Liva At Oholiah s school By following the Guidelines, we have made the meeting tent at Oholiah s school, the XXI th Century version With a laptop that shows photos of our community in order to give thanks for the best moments. Thank you for this good idea!! Pierre Durieux, Children Light community, France To contribute to Up sails!, send us reports on assemblies, meetings, formations sessions, photos Send us news of the communities you guide, collect fioretti
16 International Solidarité Page 15 What have your contributions since September been used for? Ciney (Belgium), November, international formation session. 4 delegates from the Indian Ocean province (Madagascar, Seychelles and Mauritius) attended: Cairo (Egypt), November, international formation session in English for Africa Capricorn, the attendance of a delegate from Burundi, 2 from Zimbabwe and 1 from South Africa. For Egypt North, attendance of 2 delegates from Sudan: Zimbabwe, formation session for the 15 communities of Zimbabwe: USD. Cameroun, support for the coordination of 3 communities in the country : 150 Thanks to you We want to warmly thank all donors, friends of Faith and Light and the provinces who responded generously to our appeal for solidarity for the Coordinators Council meeting in Lourdes next January. At the start of December, we had collected of the required for the transport and accommodation of 35 coordinators and chaplains from the poorest countries. The effort still needs support so that these 35 coordinators and province chaplains can come from the four Africa and Indian Ocean countries, from two Asian countries, from six Eastern European countries, three Central and South American countries and from three Middle East countries. A big thank you to each and every one of you! So that Faith and Light live, grow and spread The finance leaflet is available to you! It will be an invaluable help to you to explain to people external to Faith and Light (and even to community members) the international movements of solidarity. It also presents the accounts of the international association and the work of the International Secretariat to the service of the communities. To order, free of charge, in French, English or Spanish from the International Secretariat and... to be taken without moderation! Projects to be supported In the next Dispatch Issue 9 of The dispatch will be entirely dedicated to fundraising. You will find in it: A sponsorship file to personalise and to send to your friends, family members and acquaintances... A patronage file to personalise aimed equally at associations, charities and businesses... Sample letters A booklet, A few easy recipes to help you organise various sales and all sorts of activities to raise funds.. So prepare your toolboxes and sewing kits, your pliers and your scissors Meet around the stoves. Good and warm times to experience together preparing to make Faith and Light live, grow and shine! A small example: in December, a community in France organised a small Christmas market and made these magnificent sweet crowns! Needless to say they sold like hot cakes Coordinators Council, Lourdes 29 January-2 February 2011 : You want to make a donation? In several countries, Faith and Light is registered and recognized as a charity organization which allows a reduction on taxes on every gift done locally. Get information by your Provincial Associa- tion. Editorial Director: Ghislain du Chéné - Chief editor and layout,: Corinne Chatain