“Cheminer avec Eugène” … Why don’t we introduce ourselves?

Paris, France

Originally Published on OMIWORLD.ORG

Click here to see the article en Español

By Ivana Zoccali

Our annual meeting of the “Cheminer avec Eugène” (following in Eugene’s footsteps) group took place in Paris. But let’s see, let’s see… What is this group? Perhaps we are not well known in the province. So, this (brilliant) space for sharing is a good opportunity for us to get to know each other a little better.

Who are we, you ask?

Born four years ago, we are a group of 18 young adults in love with the Oblate charism. In our youth, we all spent some time with the Oblates in various houses. When we reached adulthood, we all realized that we did not want this journey with the Oblates to end and remain just a youthful memory. So, our group was created (hence the name, “Cheminer avec Eugène“).

All of us are different in terms of age (from 21 to 43), state of life (young professionals, childless couples, families, singles) and nationality (from 8 different countries!), but we are all united by the same force: love for Christ and for people.

Unable to carry out missions together because of geographical distances, each member lives the Oblate charism and mission in a unique way. Most of us are involved in Oblatio and the itinerant mission launched by Brother Jacques LANGLET, while others also support the province’s youth ministry, local missions or simply in their daily lives because, yes, you can be a “missionary” wherever you are!

Despite this missionary differentiation, there are a number of common threads among us: sharing the charism by being united with one another; common prayer (every Wednesday, as well as special times such as Advent, Lent, Oblate feasts, etc.); Oblate formation, spiritual renewal, and fraternity through two annual meetings.

Our symbol: multicolored mini sneakers! A strange object to represent us, it is true, but in the end, we find it perfectly describes our foundations – a mission that is:

  • Modern: we adapt to today’s changing society (represented by “modern” shoes).
  • Varied: everyone wears a different color to signify our diversity (and richness!)
  • Fraternal: each of us has just one shoe, and to walk, we know we will need each other’s feet.
  • Humble: a mini format to remind us of our humility. Regardless of the different workloads within the group, we are all humble servants.

Our symbol: multicolored mini sneakers!

Maxime and I (Ivana) have coordinated the group for two years, and Father Przemek KOSCIANEK has supported it. We would rather call it “coordination” because we are all basically responsible for the group! Everyone plants seeds, and the Lord will make a beautiful garden blossom!

Ivana Zoccali, (Aulnay-sous-Bois, France)

A few testimonies…

What this group brings me

“To paraphrase Manta, when I talk to members of the group or when we get together, I don’t feel like I’m meeting up with friends: it’s something else. We have all been walking together for several years now, and I feel like I am rubbing shoulders with members of my family in Christ; members of the same body.

This group gives me great stability in my faith; it also enables me to renew my commitment every time we meet and with every action we take.

Indeed, we sometimes have to travel the length and breadth of France to meet up for a long weekend: each participation or action is, therefore, a demonstration of my will, maintenance of my commitment to pursue this beautiful path alongside Eugene and my brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Alexandre Marraud des Grottes, (Lyon, France)

“Les Pas d’Eugène” experience in Paris

“The lay members of the “Cheminer avec Eugène” group met on the weekend of February 17-18 in Fontenay-sous-Bois to follow in the footsteps of the founder in Paris.

After a prayer in the chapel of the “Oblates at 25” (refers to how this house is known), who welcomed us for the whole weekend, we took time for a personal rereading of the important moments of our journey in the form of a lifeline. We then added to this line the presence of the Oblates in relation to the different events we had experienced. This made us aware of the strong ties that bind us to the congregation!

The rest of the day was spent in sunny Paris. Led by John, we discovered the Oblate sites in Paris. A first stop at the Senate reminded us that Eugene had a seat there at the end of his life, which enabled him to lead the major Marseille projects. We then walked to the church of St. Sulpice, which was next to the seminary where he received his training. After a picnic in the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens, we headed by bus to the Montmartre district. We made a stop on Rue de St Pétersbourg and we visited the church run by the Oblates from the time when the provincial house was adjacent to it (following the founder’s departure from Marseille after his death). This visit enabled us to discover the stained-glass window depicting Eugene and Tempier. We also visited the Montmartre cemetery in order to pay our respects in front of the congregation’s vault, with a special thought for GONZAGUE, the last to have been laid to rest there, whom some of us knew well in his last years at Fontenay. We then climbed the steps leading up to the Sacré-Coeur, whose construction we learned had been inspired by Guibert, a side street named after him.

After a good ten kilometers that did not dampen our enthusiasm, back in Fontenay, we had the joy of celebrating the feast of the approbation of the Constitution of the Rules with the community of “Oblates at 25”, and also the joy of praying the prayer of consecration to Mary Immaculate together.

We participated at Mass in the parish the following day, followed by lunch with the community “at 25”.

It was a unifying, nourishing weekend that gave us the impetus to continue our journey with Eugene!

Amélie, (Fontenay-sous-Bois, France)