Ecumenism? Naturally!

“It is very natural for our experience of Church here to be ecumenical.”During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we’re going to Strasbourg (France) to see how our Sisters live it in their daily lives.

The experience of Christian unity proves to be very concrete here.

Already, there are two signs in our neighborhood marking two parishes, one Protestant and the other Catholic, built very close to each other.

L.Sr. Veronika-Myriam has worked for years in an association called “The Disciples,” at the Protestant parish. The members work together in service to the neighborhood, without asking each other what denomination they belong to: welcoming and caring for the children, or helping out for special occasions (like communal meals) by cleaning the venues that are used. Again this year we were invited to the Christmas Eve dinner, along with many of our neighbors.

Every first Sunday of the month we like to gather downtown at the “Temple Neuf” for a prayer service led by representatives of the various Christian denominations present in Strasbourg. This year we’re praying especially for Peace. We are all invited to come to the Baptismal font and to make some sort of gesture to remind ourselves of our Baptism.

And speaking of Baptism! Brother Charles, born in Strasbourg in 1858, was baptized in a Church which was divided in two at that time, one half used by Protestants and the other by Catholics. Today that Church is a Protestant parish, St. Pierre-le-Jeune, and the spot where Charles de Foucauld was baptized is highlighted and honored. We like to go to the place to pray, and together with friends and other little sisters we go there on pilgrimage and are always warmly welcomed by the Pastor and his staff. At one burial service where L.Sr. Alessandra-Paola was present, that same Pastor pointed her out and spoke of Brother Charles and the worldwide Fraternity.

In the same way we are friends with the members of the Protestant religious community called The Deaconesses. Before making her commitment in that community, one of the members wanted to get to know more about our presence in the neighborhood, and she lived with us for two weeks. Our friend Huguette still remembers her.

Here are a few words from Flor, a friend from the Evangelical Church: “When my mom, Christiane, was young, she had a very good friend, L.Sr. Hélène-Madeleine, and even though she never saw her in later years, they continued to correspond. It was she who instructed us to get in touch with the Little Sisters in Strasboug, which we did with great pleasure. The very first time we met, we had the feeling we’d known each other forever…and that we wanted to continue the relationship for an equally long time. We try to support each other, and it’s always a pleasure when we manage to organize our busy days so we can get together. To me they are ‘my’ little sisters.”

L.Srs. Alessandra-Paola, Diana, and Veronika-Myriam