A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Fourvière Pilgrimage: Dare to Dream

by Jen Martinez

by Jen Martinez

I often say to young people at the end of overnight retreats to go gently back into their realities and not to expect their families and friends to understand the experience they have been on. It can be a little disheartening when you share this kind of personal experience with others and they don’t get it.

I felt this way returning home after two weeks in Lyon for the Marist young adult gathering Dare to Dream. Luckily I am part of a team that understands the complexities of these experiences. They allowed me the grace and space to digest the experience, and when I was ready they were there for me to share the experience, insights and challenges I faced.

At Logos many of us connect with and share in Marist spirituality. You can imagine how excited we were to find out about the international young adult gathering happening in light of the Marist bicentenary. For many years I have dreamed of going to Lyon and visiting the Marist places of origin, and here was this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was good news that a small group of us would represent New Zealand in Lyon, and this included three team members from Logos. I recognised that this was a time in my life to reflect deeply on the call to be Marist. After a few months of reflecting I decided to take another step and make my commitment as a lay Marist woman surrounded by Marist Laity and friends.

Earlier this year, when Fr Thige O’Leary sm first joined our team, I asked him if there was anything specific he wanted to do. His reply was, ‘I’m here to assist you and the team in anyway I can.’ And that is what he did! Over several months Fr Thige prepared us for our journey to Lyon. Each Wednesday morning we gathered and learnt more about the Marist story and significant places. It became a ritual to begin and end with the Salve Regina.

The Dare to Dream gathering

The Dare to Dream gathering

The International Volunteer Team

Fr Alejandro Munoz sm invited Sam (Logos Programme Co-ordinator) and me to be part of the international volunteer team. The volunteer team met the week prior to Dare to Dream. The volunteers were a mix of young and old, lay and religious, from the four Marist branches. We were based at Sainte Marie College, situated half way up the 800 stairs to Fourvière. Our first week involved learning the programme, becoming familiar with the city and the use of public transport, learning songs in Spanish and French, setting up the pavilion with incredible decor made in Barcelona, practicing the liturgical dances and animations and packing 500 backpacks with a selection of goodies including a radio for translation.

The chapel at Fouvière

The chapel at Fouvière

And so we were ready to welcome 500 people from 27 countries. The moment had arrived and here we were -- ten Kiwis about to absorb ourselves as fully as possible in 200 years of history. The week began with participants lugging big suitcases from St Paul station up some of the 800 steps. A great way to be introduced to Fourvière! One day as we were approaching the infamous steps, a Marist priest pointed out the steps that led to the Lazarites’ building and told me that Jean Claude Colin and Jeanne Marie Chavoin would meet at these steps to discuss matters. Suddenly I found myself imagining JC with his small specs and Jeanne Marie and her heavy habit having a conversation, and wondering what kind of things they spoke about. Who knows how true the story was? But it certainly had my imagination going.

Sharing dreams and hopes

Jen Martinez, Sr Helen smsm and Sr Antoinette sm

Jen Martinez, Sr Helen smsm and Sr Antoinette sm

Throughout the week we spent time unpacking the theme, Dare to Dream. We did this through prayer, animations, activities around the city, music and listening to the dreams of lay people and religious who work in Marist ministries. One of the highlights was listening to the four Superiors General speak about daring to dream. Fr John Hannan’s keynote address was passionate and energising, encouraging us to be courageous as the early Marists were.

I was fortunate to co-lead a small group of 20 participants alongside Mavi, a woman from Barcelona. In the hour we had together each day in the group, we had many great conversations and people shared deeply about what it meant to be Marist. At times it was overwhelming, and it wasn’t always easy to communicate across the different languages, but we seemed to relate in an extraordinary way.

Visiting La Neylière

One day in our small group, I was asked if I found it boring going through the Oceania Museum in La Neylière. Although this question seemed like a simple one, I look back and realise that this was the most profound moment I had throughout the whole week. At the time I didn’t have much to say as a response. I actually shed a few tears and answered, ‘No it wasn’t boring; it was quite amazing.’ That morning I was so thrilled that we were visiting La Neylière, and I was also pleased that the Formators accompanied us during our prayer walk through Pommeys. I expected to stand at Fr Colin’s tomb and sing Mo Maria with my fellow Kiwis, I even expected that we would take a photo with as many Kiwis as we could find around his tomb but I didn’t expect the Oceania Museum. It was strange at first, walking into the museum and listening to the curator speak about the Pacific, but as we continued, the story of the first Marist Missionaries began to sink in. I felt proud and grateful to be connected to the story.

Fr Colin’s tomb at La Neylière, with Fr John Hannan, Society of Mary Superior General on the left, and General Assistant Fr Alejandro Munoz on the right

Fr Colin’s tomb at La Neylière, with Fr John Hannan, Society of Mary Superior General on the left, and General Assistant Fr Alejandro Munoz on the right

Renewed hope and vision

Before walking into his bedroom we listened to extracts from Fr Colin’s letters, and I was moved by his words of mercy, courage and compassion. Later that day a few of us Kiwis gathered in silence around Fr Colin’s tomb. It was a beautiful moment of solidarity and peace, a gentle but powerful reminder of the promise that was made 200 years ago. A promise that required sacrifice and gave a lot of life.

I’ve come back to my work as a lay Marist with a renewed sense of hope and vision. I didn’t realise that I needed a renewed sense of hope or vision, but I guess part of the journey is discovering what you need to carry out the dream.

Jen Martinez leads The Logos Project, Marist Youth Development, in Auckland. She has worked at Logos for over 10 years and attended Marist Primary and Marist College in Mt Albert in her earlier years.

Tagged as: , ,

Comments are closed.