Sharing her vision of the Church and of the new challenge put forth by Pope Francis for a pastoral ministry focussed on the periphery, within the framework of a missionary journey, in just one hour, was quite a challenge! Yet Mrs. Yvonne Demers succeeded to do so with conviction.
On October 13, her testimony resonated with the Sisters and lay people who were present at Maison Jésus-Marie. Firmly rooted in her experience at having been committed to the Church for nearly forty years, she shared her vision with realism and hope.
From the beginning, Mrs. Demers made it clear that she was giving her opinion, her point of view, as a Christian and former pastoral agent. "My vision of things needs to be looked at in a critical manner and thus be adapted to each person’s situation," she said.
The present-day Church has a cumbersome structure... cumbersome from its 2000 years of history, and of acquired and maintained power... cumbersome from its doctrinal, legislative and economic heritage... cumbersome from its traditions and patriarchal culture.
The findings can be disappointing and yet, Mrs. Demers keeps faith and hope in this church. She relies on the life of Jesus and on that of Charles de Foucault. Both appear to have experienced missionary setbacks and yet, after their deaths, their message took on a vitality which continues to this day. There is also Pope Francis who, by his calls, is succeeding in opening doors to freedom.
Mrs. Demers stressed that even if we believe the Church to be in decline, it remains faithful to its mission and continues its efforts to adapt its message to the world of today. But the challenges are immense. She raises a few:
• A challenge to take our present day culture into account
• The challenge to revisit doctrine and tradition
• The challenge to rethink the parochial model
Her vision of this pastoral movement towards the “periphery” presented by Pope Francis was inspired by two books: "Une Église sans domicile fixe" (A Church with No Fixed Address) written by Alain Roy, published by Média Paul in 2010 and a collective overseen by Marc Pelchat entitled "Réinventer la paroisse" (Reinventing the Parish), published by Média Paul in 2015. In these two works, we find affirmations and insights full of meaning.
In conclusion, the presenter, inspired by Charles de Foucault, put forward two developments concerning evangelization which are within everyone’s reach, regardless of her or his conditions of poverty, deficiency, aging, illness:
• proclaim the Gospel with one's whole life
• live the mystery of the Visitation as the path to evangelization
The meeting ended with a question period and an informal discussion during which light refreshments were served.
Photo credits Sister Gisèle Lalande