Formation of a new Team International in Issoudun

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Issoudun is the the birthplace of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC). Jules Chevalier, the founder of the MSC chose this place, because in his time it was the difficult region in France-regarding of the spiritual life.  He had a vision of a new world emerging and he wanted to make known the Gospel message of God’s love and care for all men and women and to evoke a response in every human heart. He especially valued love, concern, compassion, understanding, respect and acceptance of every individual. His vision was based on the words of Jesus: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34)

Chevalier’s vision is well summarized in the motto: May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be loved everywhere! Now, brothers, priests, together with all Chevalier Family and a large number of laity, have been involved in a mission that the love of God incarnate in the Sacred Heart of Jesus be loved and known everywhere.

As the birthplace of that mission, Issoudun has a special role for the Chevalier Family. It is a place for drawing the spirit of Fr. Chevalier. In the future, a new team that is in preparation now will serve Issoudun. Father Hans Kwakman MSC who has deepened the spirituality and the charism of father Jules Chevalier lead a retreat for the team. This team consists of Emmerson (Rep. Dominica), Sebatian and Martin (India), Gabriel (Cameroun), and Yongki (Indonesia). Father General and Father Carl Tranter also participated in that retreat. The goal is to inflame the spirit and help the new team to continue the mission of Jules Chevalier in Issoudun. Father Hans raised a question in the beginning of the retreat: What did inspire Chevalier in his mission in Issoudun? The answer is his charism, which means the obedience to the Holy Spirit in his heart. It was burning his heart. It was inspiring and giving him a clear direction – “une direction claire” in the way of life and his work. As the team we are invited to integrate the profound aspirations of Jules Chevalier in our lives as well as in pastoral works in the future. Two parts of Issoudun, the basilica and the parish of Issoudun, which has been “separated” for a long time, will be served by the same team.

During the two-day retreat, we meditated on three interesting topics, namely:

  • The charism of Jules Chevalier which inspired him to choose Issoudun as the the place of the fondation the MSC.
  • The impacts of his charism for the pastoral works.
  • The impacts of his charism for the development of his personality and religious as the priest and missionary.

We meditated and contemplated these topics personally and after that we shared our reflection in-group.

When Fr. Jules Chevalier accepted his new assignment in Issoudun, he left the parish of St. Aubin-Sur Nere happily. He arrived in Issoudun on October 15, 1854. The Bishop of Bourges asked him to work in that “dry” place. Dry in many meanings: the most difficult area or “the desert of faith” at that time even until now. However P. Jules Chevalier as a young priest – he was only 30 years old – accepted the assignment and worked enthusiastically. He even thought of his project that he has planned for at the major seminary of Bourges and wanted to objectify it. Just one month after his arrival in Issoudun he immediately told his friend, Maugenest,  about his plans to cure the “illness of time” (indifferentism and egoism, etc). We may ask ourselves, as Fr. Jules Chevalier left the former parish and mission happily, are we happy to leave our place of mission to the new place of mission?

I am personally attracted to the development of Chevalier’s personality and spirituality. There were significant changes since he was in Major Seminary in Bourges until Issoudun. The teachings of Pelliser in 1848, reading of the life of Marguerite Marie from the writings of Mgr Languet, as well as the retreat preparing for his ordination to subdiaconal in 1850, all touched him. And of course, those all changed his personality. The experiences were crucial moment for the birth of his charism as the founder of MSC.

From this short story, I can learn for the development our personality and spiritual life. I see the importance of spiritual reading, study and retreat for recharging our spirit for mission, to be fresher and more passionate in our service. (Yongki MSC).

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