For several years, in summer and winter, BFN province has been offering ‘holiday/prayer/mountain’ camps in the southern Alps, close to Briançon, for students or young professionals up to the age of 35.
‘A Different Kind of New Year at La Kimpina’ took place from 26th December 2016 to 1st January 2017. For me, this adventure began well before the first day of the camp. It started with communicating and distributing the pamphlet, phoning each of the young people to confirm that their expectations concurred with our proposal, and, as part of the organising team, preparing for and dreaming about each of the days.
What a gift to share the mission of the RSCJs as a lay associate, to witness God’s action on the path of each of these young people, to be expected and welcomed by the locals, to participate in the life of the parish, to feel at home at La Kimpina, to be carried in prayer by our sponsors in the community of elderly sisters at Montpellier.
Thank you to Marie-Reine for the gift of her story!
BFN Lay Associate
“This week has been a great boost for me, from all points of view: physical, moral and spiritual.
First of all, the welcome and kindness shown by Sister Claude, Annick and Pauline made us feel from the outset as if we were with family. I appreciated the very simple times of sharing at the start of the week to help us get to know each other, then those at the end of the week when we confided in each other more. These times of exchange lived out in a simple atmosphere of trust cause us to enrich each other, and Christ speaks to us in practical terms through other people. I also appreciated the beauty of the place, those times of silence when you could contemplate and internalise everything you were hearing even more. Equally, I found the prayer/meditation times in the morning and evening very good: I learnt again how to pray with my heart, and less with my head; I found Sister Claude’s instructions particularly enlightening.
What has touched me a lot this week is discovering how to re-read my life; I was already doing it unconsciously, but in a short, superficial way, yet there, really getting into re-reading our year, I learned how to put words to what I was feeling deep inside myself and how to use this re-reading in order to move forward. On one particular day when the theme was ‘joy’, I could re-read the moments of deep joy I had lived in 2016; and in particular I could identify what was really giving me joy in my everyday life, and what was false joy, apparent joy - not necessarily unhealthy, but not to be kept as priorities in my life. This was a sharp realisation for me and has been guiding my everyday life ever since.
I was thus able to re-read certain aspects of my personal life, and also of my professional life. In particular, I was ‘reconciled’ with my work as I became aware of certain positive points, something that hadn’t happened very much in six years of work!
Finally, the vigil on New Year’s Eve and the celebration with the parishioners was a joyful moment when we saw with our own eyes that the Church is first and foremost all one family: you don’t know the people, but very quickly, after simple exchanges, you feel close. To sum it up, it’s really a week when I felt the hand of God placed on me. A week when you learn, in a practical way, a lot about your life and the question of how to move forward, how to put God and others more into your everyday life.
To recap, in no particular order and in brainstorming mode, here are some good moments I appreciated:
- hysterical laughter by the fire
- delicious dinners
- good nights when you wake up on the dot in the morning
- prayer at the oratory
- the sunshine!
- each person’s talents
- good moments of sharing and reflection that help you move forward
- being woken with music in the morning (and good music!)
- the vigil on New Year’s Eve, with:
- the beauty of the church
- the amazing welcome from the parishioners
- the fireworks when we arrived
- the fraternal vigil at La Kimpina
A big thank you once again, Claude, Annick and Pauline. It is due to you three that it was so good!”
Another gift to share: a few words from a member of the team that looks after La Kimpina (welcome, booking, maintenance…).
It warms the heart to see what you can sow in the lives of these young people.
Thank you for setting this time of reflection on their path, a time that will remain and, I am sure, determine their adult life and therefore the world of tomorrow.
It is true that, if you really want to open your eyes and take the time, our environment, by its beauty, brings us to contemplation and reflection.
Life as a group, sharing and praying together, that you know so well how to create, contributes to God becoming a presence which sends us back towards others and makes us share His unconditional Love despite our own difficulties.
We are happy to be able to offer you this possibility for meeting. For several more years, I hope. And what’s more, your coming also does us a power of good.
United in prayer, I wish you all the best and my kindest regards.