After making some wonderful discoveries at the World Youth Days in Portugal, among thousands of young people, Lisa, who has been in charge of communications at CANA for a year, joined the CANA Week this summer at the Dombes Abbey (France). She tells us about her experience at the heart of all these couples.

A young person at the service of CANA Week

Two worlds so different, yet so coherent

This summer, along with thousands of other young people, I had the opportunity to take part in the Welcome to Paradise Festival and the World Youth Days with the Chemin Neuf Community in Portugal ( Festival Welcome to Paradise et les JMJ ). They were two very eventful weeks, which brought me a lot of grace and peace.

A week later, I arrived in a completely different world to serve the couples of CANA Week. Located at the Abbaye des Dombes, this week brought together 50 couples for CANA Couples, 23 pairs of engaged couples, 15 couples for CANA Otherwise (half-time service, half-time formation for couples on the subject of gratitude) and around a hundred children aged 0 to 16, making a total of around 400 people on the site. It was a week where the more the days passed, the more the love could be felt in the eyes of each of these couples.

CANA at Dombes Abbey, it’s so fraternal!

The Dombes Abbey is the perfect place for a week’s programme in the middle of summer, as well as for taking time out from your daily routine as a couple, with your family and with God. I had the opportunity not only to visit the abbey farm, but also to taste the organic cheeses, ice creams and cheeses during the week’s meals, which were a real delight. Well done to the kitchen team and all those in charge of the Dombes abbey farm!

During the week, I realised that everything was very well organised so that the couples could finally really talk to each other, start conversations that they had been struggling to get off the ground, and take the time to invite God into the centre of their relationship.

This week is punctuated by several activities, teachings and different activities, but you have to experience it to discover them!

A little time for review is included each day, so that everyone can see for themselves the graces that are granted on a daily basis. For some, it was easy to get up and express themselves about what they had been feeling or to share the difficulties their couple was going through. Many made the effort and it was a great way to hear some wonderful testimonies from CANA Week participants.

Several evenings are organised during the week bringing together married couples and engaged couples who are following the week’s programme for themselves (CANA Couples and CANA Engaged), and all those who serve them, including couples who also have their own programme (CANA Otherwise). Moments of worship were organised under the big tent, followed by a convivial time shared between all the participants at the CANA Café. Some enjoyed delicious ice creams from the Dombes farm, while others took the opportunity to spend a little time with their families before returning to their tents.

God’s presence and peace were felt throughout the week.

And more personally

This week was also full of wonderful encounters for me: between the couples and their children, the brothers and sisters of the community and another young person with whom I made friends. I went home happy to have had the chance to meet all these people and share this experience with them.

On a more personal note, I’ve always had this vision that priests and sisters had a direct connection with God, so they seemed very inaccessible to me. In the course of my work with CANA and thanks to the brothers and sisters at the CANA House at Les Pothières, where I work, I realised that they were all like us. On the contrary, they always have an ear to listen to us and a shoulder to support us. They are little angels sent by God to guide us through the world. This was confirmed during CANA Week when I was able to talk to one of the priests several times about my fears and the prayers I was making to God, and each time he found the perfect words that touched me.

Being close to the Community in all its forms this summer was a real grace for me. I’ve really been able to meet God, find friends in Christ who push me in the right direction, and also witness miracles all around me. I know that my parents are happy for me, but I know that God is looking down on me with a big smile because I’ve been looking for him a lot and he’s been right under my nose the whole time!

Thank you to the whole team for trusting me, and to all the servants for welcoming me with open arms.  Spoiler alert: I really didn’t want to leave!

Lisa VAN BEERS, Communications Officer