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Adrienne Rainville - Canada,


Marist Province of CanadaPersonal experiences

Let me introduce myself in a few words: I am a mother of four children and a grandmother of twelve grandchildren. I am presently living through the loss of my husband who died suddenly after forty-five years of marriage.

Our two daughters had the experience of being monitors at Camp Marist at Rawdon from 1986 to 1995. We were faithful in visiting them regularly. I remember the welcome, full of humour, that Brother Bernard Lachapelle, a Marist, reserved for us during our first visit. I could describe it as this: “a quality of welcome that made us want to return.”

Attracted by this enchanting corner, one day my husband and I, when we were talking to the director of the camp, Brother Gérard Bachand, offered ourselves as volunteers. He said to us, “Come and try.” Our Marist adventure started from this moment.

After seventeen years of voluntary work in this place, I was amazed and grateful for all that I had experienced and received from the children, the monitors and the brothers. Numerous examples come to mind like that of the young camper with Down’s syndrome who became close and won me over and allowed me to discover the beauties in differences. “To do things with”, “to be attentive to the children who were often the least favoured”, they were realities that I experienced with the monitors and the brothers. We are there for each other and the children of such a large family.

Brigitte, our daughter gave one year to the Marist school in Haiti. We had the privilege of going there. As a consequence we were committed at the heart of COCOMIS (committee of missionary aid workers). To give our time and space to encourage the preparation of young adults to have a unique experience with the brothers with the Haitians was close to our heart. There was the annual weekend when the future and former aid workers and the brothers spent some time at our place, sharing, working, praying, resting as in one large family. When his timetable allowed it, the Superior, Brother Réginald Racine, joined the group. One evening at bedtime, the dear brother set himself up on a mattress on the floor. He had given the bedroom that we had offered him to a brother who was older than he. I thought that it was right that a superior profit from some privilege and I admit to being ill at ease and surprised. There was a time for chores like cutting the wood and you would find him there as well.

Due to the contact with the brothers and having had experiences with them, the desire to know more about their Founder grew in us. We had the chance of doing a pilgrimage “in the footsteps of Champagnat”, on two occasions. For Marcellin, each person is the image of God, and therefore of great value and destined to goodness. Besides, he had been profoundly touched by this young person who was going to die without knowing God. That was a profound value of Champagnat that challenged me and that gave me the taste to nourish it daily. Our years of retirement, for Robert and I, have been agreeably furnished by our commitments as much at the community and parish level as at the Marist level.

Today, in order to deepen and take on more the life of Marcellin Champagnat and what animated him in the pursuit of his ideal, I give myself time to read his life written by Brother Jean-Baptiste.

Saint Marcellin passes through Mary to go to Jesus. He named her “his ordinary resource.” Mary is for me an extraordinary woman, a model in my vocation as mother and Christian. I appreciate the resources on the Good Mother offered by the Marists.

To be welcomed by the brothers in their house is a privilege. I quickly feel that I am part of their family by their beautiful simplicity and their sense of humour. The brothers also have a great sense of celebration. I appreciate moments of prayer with them.

My dreams? As a grandmother, I dreamt one day of seeing my grandchildren as campers at Rawdon. Last summer, ten came there. It is one of my commitments to collaborate with their parents to assure the possibility that they have a little experience and discover there little by little Champagnat’s spirituality experienced at the camp. My family knows the camp more and more. I think that my presence as a volunteer for so many years and my feeling of belonging to this place, leads them to want to discover this place. My nephew became a monitor, fell in love with the life of the camp and dreams of doing a pilgrimage one day.

The Marist Brother in his workshop doing manual work, the one close to young people in their education, the one in poor neighbourhoods, the one close to the sick are faithful witnesses to the values taught and lived by their holy Founder. All of my gratitude goes to these little brothers of Mary and of Champagnat. Thank you for the confidence that you give laypeople in following the mission of Champagnat.