A Pilgrimage to Sulpician Roots

Sulpician Month Concludes on High Note
Saturday 30 July 2011
by  Ronald Witherup
popularity : 8%

A highlight of the Sulpician month was a five-day pilgrimage to Lyon and the Auvergne region of France, from July 17-21, 2011. The thirty participants of the “mois sulpicien” were accompanied by the animators, translators, and two members of the General Council. The purpose of the pilgrimage was to get acquainted with sites that were especially important in the life of the founder of the Sulpicians, Father Jean-Jacques OLIER.

After a quick train trip from Paris to Lyon, the group toured major sites in the lovely historic city where the Sulpicians once ministered at Le Séminaire Saint-Irenée. The Archdiocese of Lyon recently sold the seminary property for development into luxury apartments. The proceeds from the sale have enabled the seminary to be relocated into a more up-to-date renovated facility.

From Lyon the group moved to Le Puy, where Father Olier had founded his fourth seminary (1652) and also engaged in evangelization of the region. The group celebrated Mass in the historic cathedral of Le Puy, and also had the opportunity to visit the various Marian shrines in the region, especially Notre-Dame de France, which towers above the city.

The next site on the journey was the Monastery of Saint Catherine to meet with the Dominican Sisters, whose community was known by Father Olier in the seventeenth century. Father Olier had met Blessed Mother Agnès de Langeac there. She encouraged him in his priestly vocation. The very parlor where they met on several occasions has been recently restored and is now preserved in the context of a larger museum dedicated to Mother Agnès and to the deep Catholic roots in the region.

The encounter of the participants of the mois sulpicien with the Dominican Sisters enabled a cordial dialogue between the two groups, before all gathered for a beautiful Mass in the monastery chapel. At the end of the visit, the group traveled to nearby Pébrac to hold a prayer service in the chapel of the former monastery where Father Olier had served as abbot. Pébrac was one of his benefices as a priest.

Prior to returning to Paris from Lyon by train, the group traveled to Ars to visit the site of the renowned Saint Jean VIANNEY, the Curé d’Ars who still serves as a great model for parish priests. Mass was celebrated in the basilica, followed by a guided tour of the Curé’s house.

At the end of the pilgrimage, all agreed it had been a worthwhile occasion to deepen our understanding of the context of Father Olier’s early ministry and the later influence of the Curé d’Ars. In addition, recognition of the ministry of the Dominican Sisters in Langeac to pray for priests, and particularly to pray for Sulpicians, was quite humbling.
The mois sulpicien came to its conclusion the week following the pilgrimage, highlighted on July 28 by a festive Eucharist at the Church of Saint Sulpice in Paris and a festive dinner at the Generalate on rue du Regard. There was also a moment to venerate some of the relics of Father Olier and another superior general, Father André-Jacques EMERY, which have been preserved by the Society of Saint Sulpice and that remain at the seminary at Issy-les-Moulineaux.

Everyone ended the month tired but exhilarated from the experience of interacting with Sulpicians from around the world. The enthusiasm shown by the new Sulpicians throughout the month gave everyone a sense of hope and vibrancy for the future. With the help such holy men and women as Agnès de Langeac and Father Olier, we pray that our ministry of initial and ongoing formation of priests will flourish in the years ahead.

Some photos from the final days of the mois sulpicien: