Since 1978, the CANA House at the Pothières has seen several generations being formed with the Community and gradually becoming “a family of families”. Today, it houses the CANA mission. It is on this mythical place that its inhabitants carry the mission for France and about fifty countries in the world! We asked Gilbert SOOBRAYDOO, who with his wife Marie-Andrée is in charge of the Pothières, to tell us about the daily life of this house at the service of CANA. A mother of 5, Dana KUCHCAKOVA, and Félicie, a 13 years-old girl, share their joy of living in this magnificent house.

Gilbert & Marie-Andrée Soobraydoo: privileged witnesses…

It will soon be 10 years since Marie-Andrée and I left our far away and small native island of Mauritius, with our family and three children, to make a long stopover of 8 years in Lyon, in a mission within the Chemin Neuf Community (CNC), then with Net for God, a branch of CNC for evangelization through video. In eight months of responsibility, many times we have been the privileged witnesses of these miracles that the Lord has worked in the couples and families, who came to one of the sessions that the Community has organised in this place in spite of the Covid. And the water keeps changing into wine…

All at the service of CANA

The Holy Spirit has been blowing a lot on this House with its big mission run by two teams: CANA France and CANA International. A wind of creativity gave rise during the confinement to the CANA’P evenings (= CANA@Home in the English-speaking world), filmed in the studio that has just been set up. These “live” evenings with varied themes have been really important, allowing many couples and families from all over the world to meet and exchange on their life as a couple. I remember the testimony of a couple who had started their “1,2,3…Cana!” program in person and who had to follow the third and last meeting by Zoom, due to the confinement. They discovered that the Holy Spirit was not only at the CANA House but that He could continue his work of transformation within their couple in their little apartment!

This beautiful CANA mission continues with the presence of five couples members of the Community and families who each live in a small house in “The Farm” and five singles who live in “The Big House”. In addition, we are happy to welcome couples and young people for a time of service. This was the case for a French-Hungarian couple, Aron and Elise. Elise experienced a week of retreat during her time of service and asked for the baptism in the Holy Spirit before leaving last week with Aron for their wedding in Hungary. At the moment Ezaat and Susan, a Coptic Orthodox couple in their sixties, are serving with us. They are learning French and discovering the ecumenical vocation of our Community from the inside. The miracle of the water being changed into wine is also for the servants!

A wind of creativity

All these people are directly or indirectly at the service of the CANA mission. The challenge of each day consists in this “living together” with all the different cultures present: Slovak, Egyptian, French, Mauritian, Ivory Coast. It is only the Lord who can create our unity, and it is by coming closer to Him and by putting Him at the heart of everything that we come closer to each other. The offices and the Eucharist are our places of renewal and the heart of each day. On Thursday, during the Eucharist, we pray especially for the CANA mission. Reconciliation times and the bi-weekly prayer group remain privileged spaces to listen to each other, ask for forgiveness, and hear the words of Mary to the servants at CANA: “Do whatever He tells you.”

The evening service every Wednesday evening is an opportunity for the nine children who live here to pray with the community. Faustina, the youngest of them, 3 years old, is the mascot of the Pothières. She makes a few dance steps next to her mother who plays the guitar, while the teenagers timidly try to sing. The dinner with everyone, which follows the evening service, is much more animated.

The parish of Saint-Cyprien de Buisante

The wind of the Holy Spirit continues to blow and continues to inspire us. Since September, the diocese of Lyon has entrusted the parish of Saint-Cyprien de Buisante in Anse and its 10 villages to the Chemin Neuf Community. With the parish we are moving forward slowly but surely, and our brother priest, Pascal DESQUILBET, is seeking with the Holy Spirit how to combine the “already existing” and the “new”. Out of this desire for openness, the Thursday mass at Pothières is open to parishioners.

A new look for a better welcome

With Covid we have difficulty in fully living our vocation as a house of welcome. How can we welcome the other person when we no longer have the right to touch him or her, to hug him or her as we would have liked to do? How to smile to him or her when the mask hides everything?

During this particular time, with Jozef, our Slovak brother, we put together our skills, small or big, to build a pathway to welcome to our sessions people with reduced mobility. With a new oratory magnificently decorated by a fresco painted by Ruta and Kaspars POIKANS, the CANA House is constantly being renovated. We are impatiently waiting for the moment when we will be able to taste without constraint Mauritian samoussas, each of us having a glass of ‘marquisette’ in our hand. We believe in it: the best wine is coming soon!

Félicie, 13 years old: it’s cool…

My name is Félicie, I’m 13 years old and I’ve been living in Pothières for 3 years.

What I like at the Pothières are the specific meals together and the Wednesday night services because we see the singles. I like the times together with Amandine, Pierre, Agathe, and Laura because we laugh, we play games and we even had a Christmas market.

It’s cool when we play games or watch movies together. I like having little neighbours to babysit or play with. But my favourite part is when we have Christmas or end of the year parties. 

Faustina & Félicie

Dana Kuckcakova: we are lucky…

We moved to the Pothières in August 2016 with our 5 children who ranged in age from 16 to 5. For some of them, it was not easy to leave their school, their friends. But little by little, they found their marks and they made new friendships with other children in the house. And in August 2017, our family grew with a little girl, Faustina, who is the joy of all.

The kids are awesome, they want to do everything just like the adults. And so we decided to create two children’s fraternities called “frat Timothy” for the little ones and “frat Samuel” for the older ones. Their meetings are not as regular as ours but they are always happy to meet, to eat in their frat, to share in frat, to play in frat. This has allowed the older children to have quality time with their leaders without being “bothered” by the younger ones and the younger ones to have the impression of being like the older ones. It has woven beautiful friendships with strong times of prayer, but also of reconciliation, because life also brings moments when we rub-up against each other.

During the first lockdown last year, the idea came up to take care of the greenhouse. To spend time outside, working the soil, having fun together planting and watering the plants. The kids rotated watering duty so it wasn’t too much work. And the whole house enjoyed the harvest of salads, tomatoes, zucchini and strawberries.

Life at the Pothières is beautiful, punctuated by times of prayer, services, welcoming those coming from outside and the work of the brothers in the offices, and by free times of games and laughter but also by the more serious times of community work.

We are fortunate to be able to live in such a magnificent place and to be at the service of God and of others.