To reach out to families
As part of the Year of the Family recently launched by Pope Francis, initiatives to have the guidelines of the exhortation “Amoris Laetitia-The Joy of Love” taken up by dioceses and parishes are strongly encouraged. The Family Pastoral of the Diocese of Versailles embarked on this adventure for a few years already, and has entrusted this mission to a team from CANA France.
As Pope Francis told us in his exhortation in 2016: “I encourage the faithful who find themselves in complicated situations to speak confidently with their pastors or with other lay people (…) whose lives are committed. They may not always encounter in them a confirmation of their own ideas or desires, but they will surely receive some light to help them better understand their situation and discover a path to personal growth. I also encourage the Church’s pastors to listen to them with sensitivity and serenity, (…) to help them live better lives and to recognize their proper place in the Church.” AL-312
“The Church wishes, with humility and compassion, to reach out to families and to help each family to discover the best way to overcome any obstacles it encounters.” AL-200
A bishop gives his testimony
Following his participation in CANA Samaria, Bishop Olivier LEBORGNE gives his testimony.
2017: the program is renewed
The “CANA Samaria” program is designed for couples engaged in a new union after a divorce or separation. This program has existed for many years in the CANA universe. With the publication in 2016 of the exhortation “Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Love”, on love in the family, the program is gaining momentum.
In 2017, the renewed program is launched with the diocese of versailles. Since then, it has taken place a few times, and now during the year 2020-2021. It is run in three stages: Stage 1 Time for realism: Welcoming God’s tenderness for our couple. Stage 2 Time for reflection: The path to the Truth that sets you free, to unfold a new and peaceful life. Stage 3 Rebuilding in the long term: As a couple, being disciples.
This year, the first stage started with a weekend in October at the Poissy Retreat Center near Paris. Due to the current pandemic, this first stage was followed by 3 on-line meetings, with record teachings, which replaced the 2nd weekend. A day in presence at the St Sulpice de Favières Retreat Center replaced the 3rd weekend. Two sharing groups were run on-line throughout the course, one under our responsibility, the other under that of Bruno and Brigitte LOYAUX. The CANA Samaria team is accompanied by a diocesan priest, Father Stéphane LOISEAU, specifically called to this mission. It was enriched by the presence of Florent & Catherine NOUSCHI, a couple involved in CANA in the Paris region.
We have been delighted that over the past three years there has been mutual enrichment between the diocese and CANA, working together in the service of couples in different places and according to the different realities of the Church. However, we see a real difficulty in reaching the working-class circles of the diocese.
“Becoming disciples according to our reality”
The theme of the last day was “Becoming disciples according to our reality.” Here are the proposals we have made to the participants at the end of the program:
- To contact their parish priest and inform him of where they are in their journey; to ask him how to continue in the pastoral accompaniment proposed by Amoris Laetitia.
- To continue this journey in a sharing group until the summer.
- To participate in a CANA weekend in the Paris region.
- To attend a CANA Week, either in the classic form or in the form of CANA 1-2-3. Then to join the CANA Fraternity.
- If necessary, work on personal issues by following an Inner Healing Retreat or a Siloé cycle with the Chemin Neuf Community (CNC).
The responses to these proposals are very positive. Many couples want to continue. Most want to attend further weekends and 6 couples want to participate in CANA Week or 1-2-3… CANA.
We were touched by the commitment of all couples in their faith despite their status. All have a great thirst to move forward. Here are some testimonials.
“It is good to discover God’s love in my particular story as it is, and that his love is infinite. But it’s also good to be able to express my pain that I can’t fully take communion.”
“I dared to say to my daughter in a phone call, “This is your dad calling!” I agreed to refer to myself as Dad.”
“It’s good to share with others, to discover brothers, to be truly in trust.”
Father Stéphane LOISEAU wants this initiative to be taken up next year in the same form, and to propose it as well to couples engaged in a new union from other dioceses who would like to be accompanied in their discernment.
All this leads us to several conclusions:
- We hope to repeat this proposal next year and that some meetings may take place in St Sulpice de Favières, so as to open up to couples of other dioceses in the region;
- A very important issue has been raised along the way: that of the children of these couples. We need to think about something that could be proposed to couples and/or children.
- Couples really want to experience something with the CANA Fraternity.
- Invite parishes in the region to take this opportunity to invite divorced and remarried couples from the parish to follow this program. To do this, we would have to meet with the parish priests to explain the program to them
- A contact with the family pastoralists of other dioceses in France would be welcome.
We hope that Monsignor Luc CREPY, the new Bishop of Versailles, will confirm this proposal, which has been worked out by the Diocese’s Family Pastoral unit.
Jacques & Gaelle STEFFENS