Province of Bengaluru – International Meeting of Montfortian Associates, St. Laurent sur Sèvre – A testimony
As it was mentioned in the fore note of the Montfort International Meeting of Associates quoting the words of our Holy Father Pope Francis “Communion and encounter between different charisms and vocations is a path of hope. No one builds the future by isolating himself depending on his own strength, rather builds the future by recognising himself in the truth of a communion through encounter, dialogue, listening and mutual aid therefore preserving ourselves from remaining to oneself”.
The two weeks program starting from 1st August at MSC, Bengaluru until the final celebration at the Basilica of St. Montfort St. Laurent was an enriching pious experience which I personally have had for the first time. I have certainly attended retreats in the past, but this experience was something very different.
The preparatory sessions on the purpose of MGA, the detailed explanation of the MGA Charter by Rev. Bro. Paulose, Biographical exposition of St. Montfort by Rev. Bro. K M Joseph were eye openers for me personally as I got to know St. Montfort more.
If the sessions in Bengaluru were the theory classes which set the momentum, then what happened at St. Laurent, Montfort sur Meu, Cesson Bridge, Pontchâteau and Poitiers, were the Practical classes. I was able to have an instant connect with what I saw and listened to, because my mind was very well prepared during the preparatory sessions.
Having worked in a Montfort Institution since the last 20 years I had a basic knowledge of who St. Montfort was and his devotion to the cross and the Virgin Mary. However when actually visiting the place of his birth, his birth house at Montfort sur Meu , the Cesson bridge where he started his mission, and especially the cavalry at Pontchâteau made me understand why even after 350 years we still hear the voice of St. Montfort.
When the universal catholic church is currently in the path of synodality, the culmination of the 3 congregations: The Montfort Fathers of the Company of Mary, the Reverend sisters of the Daughters of Wisdom and the Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel was indeed a historical moment. I have always been a destiny’s child and whatever has happened in my life was always by chance and not by choice, and for the fact that I was chosen to be a part of it, I thank my God to have destined me this opportunity.
The Holy masses I participated everyday, the Marians prayers, the Renewal of my Baptismal vow, the way of the cross and the calvary experiences in all the places, the pilgrimage to Lourdes and the fellowship shared with each other irrespective of where we come from with no barriers of language and culture made me realise my connect with Jesus my redeemer and Mary the path to that redemption both as a catholic, more importantly as a Montfortian Associate. I now feel I have a even bigger responsibility to spread this Montfortian Spirituality in my own simple ways.
I extend by gratitude to my Provincial Superior Rev. Bro. George Padikara and my Principal Rev. Bro. Stephen Xavier for choosing me to represent my Province, for this spiritual experience. I also express my heartfelt thanks to Rev. Bro. Herman Lakra for meticulously planning and organising this memorable event for us along with visits to Paris and pilgrimage to Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine. Sincere thanks to Rev. Bro. K M Joseph, Rev. Bro. Paul Raj and Rev. Bro. Britto for all their contributions in making this experience more purposeful. I also take this platform to thank our Central Administration especially Rev. Bro Dionigi and all the brothers and Staff of St. Gabriel school, for inviting us and treating us with great hospitality all through the stay at St. Laurent.
My heartfelt thanks to each one of the Revered Brothers and all the members of MGA for your warmth and care throughout the trip. I am sure I have made friendships for life. We may not be able to keep in touch regularly, however the solidarity we share in common as Montfort Gabrielite Associates will definitely keep us going.
Mrs. Monica D’ Souza
Academic Coordinator – Montfort Mat. Hr. Sec. School St. Thomas Mount
Chennai – Province of Bengaluru.