On April 6th, I had the privilege of attending an evening performance expressing the peace and gratitude of the students from l’Institut de fomation humaine integrale de Montréal (IFHIM) (Institute of Human Integral Training) to all of their benefactors, of whom you are included. This week we would like to offer you this article about the evening I spent with them at the institute, which was also the subject of our show ‘Vue d’ailleurs’ last week.
The above-mentioned evening gave me the opportunity to appreciate the extent to which these students, with their hearts filled with joy and with hope, are committed to this formation. This joy comes from the gratitude of being able to live such an experience; and from this hope which they nourish by reflecting on the privilege they will have of transmitting to those who suffer, a capacity to become themselves and builders of bridges for peace.
Lead by Father Théodore Aimé Seck – a diocesan priest from Thiès Sénégal – in a cheerful and complicit way, the evening gave way to spiritual moments of great intensity that can only truly be inspired by altruistic love. Songs, skits, and dance were on the programme for this evening of which the most touching moment, for me, was the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, sung in Portuguese by a choir of students which could have rivaled a professional choir.
Throughout the evening, I met many of the consecrated life with whom I had the joy of exchanging. I even invited some of them to be interviewed on Vue D’ailleurs as I mentioned before.
The first I came across were Sisters Leslie and Manette, two Haitian students in their third year with whom I recorded a radio program in September 2011. At that time, they shared with us their experience related to the terrible earthquake which shook Haiti in January 2010. The transformation I noticed in them during this interval was surely tangible: more self-assurance in their remarks, sharp senses of humour and a contagious air of ‘joie de vivre’… The greatest joy for them came when these sisters had the opportunity to put into practice the principles assimilated during their formation by participating in a trip home – a third caravan of students to Haiti – between March 13 and 27. They accompanied people and helped them rise from their trauma. I invite you to listen to Vues D’ailleurs to hear more about their experiences.
Next, Sister Micheline, a Congolese sister from the Congregating of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Kongolo, who arrived at IFHIM in January 2010 and who was also one of my guests on last week’s show. This sister, who is in her eighth year of consecrated life, and who looks very much like a novice due to her youthful appearance, came to do the formation following a recommendation from the bishop of her diocese.
In fact, the bishop’s suggestion was inspired because a sister from the same congregation underwent training at IFHIM some years ago.
Because of the way this other sister would go to the rescue of those who had lived a trauma such as rape, war and the like, and her notably similar charism within her community, the bishop decided to invite the community to send another person to have the experience.
We must emphasize that the institutes’ mission corresponds very much to the types of projects that we support as it is meant as a formation destined as an end for pastoral work within countries of great need.
The last word
Lastly, to close the evening festivities, Marie-Marcelle Desmarais, Director General of IFHIM, addressed the auditorium, warmly thanking all those present and inviting all the students to identify themselves along with their country of origin. We went around the world! Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Peru, Columbia, Haiti, India, South Korea… and more.
My inner joy was secured in the knowledge that all these people would eventually return to their respective countries, and transmit a message of love to all suffering people who will likely also one day become, one person at a time, a builder of bridges for peace.
Another evening entitled En route for peace will take place on May 11 at 8pm at the Sanctuaire Marie-Reine des Coeurs, situated at 5875 Sherbrooked East, in Montreal. Come and take an International Voyage for Peace.