178 Years of the Religious of the Assumption

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Today we celebrate 178 years since the founding of the Religious of the Assumption in a small apartment on Rue Ferou in Paris, France.  Happy birthday, Assumption Sisters!   Sr. Martine and our General Council remind us how special this year is, being the Bicentennial of our two Founding Mothers, Saint Marie Eugenie and Mother Therese Emmanuel.  Below is their message to all of us on this special day:

“Sisters, today is the anniversary of the Foundation.  We need to ask God for a sincere desire for the perfection for which the Assumption was founded. Try to establish this desire in your souls.  Our goal is not only to devote ourselves to education.  Through this work of zeal, we try to procure the glory of God, to make our Lord Jesus Christ known and loved, to extend his Kingdom.  Have a burning desire to be perfect.  (…) That is your vocation (...) If He has made you enter the Assumption, while the foundress is still alive and the Congregation being formed, it is that each of you may become a living stone (...) but you will not be worthy of occupying a place in the building until you let yourselves be shaped, polished, worked on, so that He may place you where He wants.

Giving thanks to God for the graces that His Congregation has received since its foundation can arouse great hope in your hearts.  (…)  God has made this work grow, He has developed it, and you can expect that the great things that have been done for the Congregation will be done on a smaller scale for each of you, if you faithfully correspond to grace".

 (Mother Therese Emmanuel. An instruction for April 30 - 1874)


April 26, 2017

Very dear Sisters and friends,

On this day of commemoration, we want to receive anew this invitation to the "perfection of mercy," this time from the hands of M. Therese Emmanuel.   She reminds us that our vocation is to tend to the sanctity of love, of compassion and kindness, to dare to fix our gaze on Jesus and become "signs, channels and witnesses of his mercy."1

Our first mothers knew themselves to be foundation stones, living stones, and they welcomed the challenge of taking their place in the building, in this project under construction that was the Assumption.  They knew how to work with all their strength, and until the last moment of their lives, so that the Kingdom may become a reality in them and in the world in which they were meant to live.  They believed in that personal and social transformation – slow, hidden and mysterious, a work of love – and were determined to let themselves be "shaped, polished and chiselled..." so that God may build, with and in them, a beautiful work to the praise of His glory.

In this family feast, we are one with you in joyful thanksgiving for all that the Lord has done and continues to do in the Congregation in these 178 years of its foundation, and in each of our lives.  The Bicentennial Jubilee has been sown with beautiful initiatives throughout our Assumption world, initiatives that longed to deepen our charism in the life of our two Mothers through retreats, publications, formation activities with the laity and collaborators, plays, songs, local and provincial celebrations... A display of creativity has helped us to renew ourselves in our identity, to re-create it and return to our foundational origins, to our sources, to contemplate God's gift in the life of our first Sisters...

We are almost at the end of this three-year period of preparation for the feast of the Bicentennial, the climax of which will be the International Youth Festival in August, having gone over the itinerary of our vocation as a gift, way and encounter. This international celebration of our young people in France - which will be echoed at the local level in each of our provinces – also wants to celebrate our vocation as an encounter: encounter with the person of Jesus, certainly.  But it is also an encounter with other people seeking meaning and fullness, a timely encounter with a series of circumstances that make  a life project possible, an encounter with our deepest desires, an encounter with the multiple expressions and faces of love. In this time of misunderstandings, where violence and senselessness seem to gain ground, we are asked to go out and encounter what is different and arrive at communion and hope.

This week which already tastes like a "foundation", we rejoice at the celebration of the fusion which took place in Abidjan on Sunday, April 23, and in the Eucharist for the Bicentennial on April 30 in Notre Dame de Paris, which will convene the Sisters and friends of the two Provinces of France.  Likewise, we want to invite you in a very special way this year to recall and celebrate with joy May 3 -- the day of the birth to the earthly and eternal life of M. Therese Emmanuel.

Let us pray for each other so that this "perfection of love and mercy" that our two older Sisters dared to live may humbly become transparent in our lives.  That, like them, "we may faithfully correspond to that foundational grace".

Happy April 30!

The stones that make up this room have not only been taken from the quarry, but after, it was necessary to carve them, polish them, align them so that they can be put together.  That is the work that must be done in you and around you.  Abandon yourselves, surrender yourselves into the hands of those who work on you and ask God to make of you solid stones that help support the building.    
(Practices-cfr. p.266-Mother Therese Emmanuel)

With fraternal affection,
Sisters Martine, Carmen, Francoise, Marjo and Mayi




[1]  "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”.  In this same perspective, Saint Luke specifies that perfection is merciful love: to be perfect means to be merciful (…) God is perfect.   Is it really possible to love like God loves and to be merciful like He is?     When Jesus calls us to be merciful like the Father, He does not mean in quantity!  He asks His disciples to become signs, channels, witness of His mercy".  (P. Francis,  General Audience 21.09.16)