To Ars on pilgrimage


On 13 July 2017 we went over to Ars on pilgrimage. The bus left from cours Gambetta at 8:30 in the morning. During our journey towards Ars we prayed our morning praying using the Psalm 80.

It was conducted by father Paul Quillet. The psalm is about solemn renewal of the covenant. The words of the psalmist “You called in distress and I heard you” and his experience of God gave consolation to the pilgrims because each and every one of has the experience of the providence of God. The reading of the morning prayer made us to understand that the kingdom of God is not drinking and eating instead justice, love and peace.

When we reached Ars we watched over the french version on Saint Jean- Marie Vianney for 15 minutes. The visit to Ars and the life of Jean – Marie Vianney made us to realize that deep love for God and love for the people in humility and simplicity brought them closer to God. The mass was presided by Father Patrice CHOCHOLSKI who succeeded Father Daniel Cardot the former superior general as rector of the basilica in Ars. During the homily he said that Joseph takes the initiative to get reconciled with his brothers while saying he was Joseph, their brother. If each one could say I am so and so to the one who offended us and tell that person I am your brother then we have the spirit of God that unites us.

We had a session with Father Patrice in the afternoon. Jean- Marie who comes from the farming background, influenced by Jansenism of that time was not hard on others instead he was compassionate.

Jean-Marie a wounded young man joined the seminary at the age of 17 but had difficulties with his studies. But as cure of Ars he made the penitents to experience the love of God, at the time where people were coming with the list of sins. When absolution was conditional in his time he gave absolution of sins immediately after the confession. He spent hours and hours in the confessional. He had special love for the poor, orphans. He was very austere with himself regarding his food but when the priests of his vicariate came to his place he provided the best food and he enjoyed the delicious food with them. He loved praying in kneeling. He is a priest who got evolved during his priestly ministry from the morals of Alphonse Ligori of that time and Jansenism to love the people and bring them closer to God. We did have enough time to pray, reflect on our missionary priesthood and to make confessions.

We start things sometimes bad but we can end up things rightly was one of the messages of Fr. Patrice.   

In the evening after the meal we had Cultural programme along with the members of the house in cours de Gambetta. People made the social night very much alive by singing, jokes, and quiz programme. The cultural programmes brought us together and it was concluded with prayer and blessing by father Michel DUJARIER.

The morning prayer of 14 July was conducted by Father Carlos who was an associate priest before joing SMAs and then became the member of the SMA family. He worked as missionary in Ivory Coast and Niger. He made us to remove our foot-wears and to be in touch and contact with the earth. We realized that God is wonderful in creating the human person with beautiful feet to move on to do good to others and to proclaime the Good News. Only when we walk on the shoes of the other we understand how great others are and their problems are. He invited each and every one of us to thank God for the missionary call that we have received to be on the side of the poor. He concluded using the passage from the scripture that, “how beautiful on the mountains, are the feet of the messenger announcing peace, of the message of the good news, who proclaims salvation and says to Zion, “Your Glory is King?” (Isaiah. 52:7).

Father Antonio guided us to read and to imbibe the spirit of the SMA constitution and Laws-Chapter 1.

Then we were given the following questions for our group discussions.

  1. What touches my life when I go through the SMA constitution and Laws?
  2. What can I offer to the mission through SMA?

After discussing in small groups we came to the big group to share how each one feels in the SMA family, how he lives out his charism of the Founder and how one participates in the mission through SMA.

During the afternoon meal Father Antonio thanked the members in 150 cours Gambetta for their hospitality, welcome and their concern for the participants of the sessions. Carlos and Pascal were given gifts for their Silver jubilee of their priesthood. The whole community joined together to wish Father Paul Quillet for his birthday.

We were together for evaluation in the afternoon at 15:00. We the participants appreciated the organizers and the General Council for having given us this opportunity to energize and renew ourselves. The animators appreciated the participants’ involvement in enriching ourselves with all the opportunities provided for our good and the good of the mission. Concern was expressed to the members who could not attend the sessions in Lyon. The elderly missionaries dedication, sacrifice for mission and welcoming attitude was edifying.

Evening mass presided by father Tom McNamara. He mentioned in his homily that God tells Jacob not to fear to go over to Egypt. He promised to be with him. After the communion all the participants were called out by their names and were given the lamp lit from the Pascal candle and the SMA medal. Father Antonio gave us the special blessings of God to continue the mission of Bishop Bresillac.

Francis Kalan SMA