The community of Grandchamp is a monastic community and brings together sisters from different churches and various countries. Our ecumenical vocation commits us on the path of reconciliation among Christians and within the human family, and to respect the whole of creation. About 50 sisters form the community. Most of them live at Grandchamp, Areuse, in French-speaking Switzerland. Some sisters live in Sonnenhof, in the country near Bâle, and others live a simple presence of prayer and friendship in different places. There are sisters now in Switzerland, in the Netherlands and in France.
« Veux-tu désormais, avec tes sœurs, célébrer la nouveauté de vie que donne le Christ par l’Esprit-Saint et la laisser vivre en toi, entre nous, dans l’Église et le monde, dans toute la création, accomplissant ainsi le service dans notre communauté ? »
(2e engagement de la profession)
At the heart of our vocation there are two invitations :
COME AWAY !
let Him draw near to you in solitude and silence, and make you whole by His love!
ENLARGE THE SPACE OF YOUR TENT …
In your heart, don’t be afraid of being disturbed by those God sends to you, do not hold back!
Prayer is at the centre of our life: Prayer together and personal prayer, with meditation of the Word of God, the Eucharist, spiritual reading, day retreats and desert times of solitude. At Grandchamp and at Sonnenhof we meet four times a day for our common prayer, which is open to all who wish to take part. The whole of our life finds its source and meaning in the mystery of Easter, summed up in the Eucharist. There we draw our strength and hope. There also we celebrate the victory of love over evil and death, as we offer to God’s tender love the suffering in the world and in the Church that we carry within us. Our vocation to unity is authenticated and deepened in faithfulness to our common life.
In a world so hurt by divisions, God calls us to reconciliation. The vocation of our common life is to be a ‘parable of communion’, a sign, of the enrichment that is possible through our differences. Through personal and common prayer we seek to stay with the words: “ …that they may be one so that the world will believe.” (John 17)
Spiritual retreats are at origin of our community and so the welcome of guests is central to our life. Hospitality stimulates us in our vocation and enables us to live out a sharing of our humanity and ourselves as we go forward together. Many different people come: members of other communities, and individuals and groups who come to draw new strength, to stop awhile, as well as volunteers who come from all over the world to share our prayer and our work.
« tained by a shared momentum, rejoice. You are no longer alone; in all things you are advancing together with your sisters. With them, you are called to live the parable of community. »
(The “little source” of Taizé, adapted)
HISTORY OF THE COMMUNITY
Rooted in meditation of the Word and attentive to the Church’s tradition in seeking to live community life and obedient to the Holy Spirit, the first sisters returned to the sources of monastic life through friendship and support of Anglican, orthodox and catholic communities. Carrying in themselves the pain of division among Christians, they were from the very start mindful of the prayer of Jesus for the unity of his people, and encouraged on their journey by Abbé Paul Couturier.
Meeting Brother Roger and the links with the budding community of Taizé were determining factors for what was to follow. In 1952, the first sisters made their life commitments. They adopted the Rule that Brother Roger had just completed and soon afterwards the Taizé office, that became the bases of their community and liturgical life. This was the turning point. The Rule gave scope for deepening and expanding: deepening because it rooted their prayer for unity in the reality of community life that called them to live the parable of community; an expansion because it made explicit a new way, that of living in small groups or ‘fraternities’: it was an invitation to go out and join the most needy people where they lived, to be just a presence of prayer, friendship and sharing.
THE RULE OF TAIZÉ
Pray and work that God may reign
Throughout your day,
Let the Word of God breathe life into work and rest.
Maintain inner silence in all things
so as to dwell in Christ.
Be filled with the spirit of the beatitudes :
joy, simplicity, mercy
A VOCATION FOR UNITY AND RECONCILIATION
Because Grandchamp is close to the linguistic and cultural border between the French and German speaking parts of Switzerland, the sisters were soon drawn to take steps to discover others who were different from them. By welcoming German and Dutch women into the community shortly after the Second World War, their vocation of unity expanded into a vocation of reconciliation
In 1954, some sisters went to Algeria – which was at the time still a French colony – they began living there as a small group amongst the poorest people. Their experience touched the whole community. Mother Geneviève, who was French, was shocked to learn from her sisters how French soldiers could behave. This experience of deep awareness led her to realize that it was impossible to blame one side: ‘The others’ are no longer the only ones capable of wrongdoing. This understanding of Mother Geneviève spread through the whole community. Later the Dutch sisters became aware of the same thing with regard to Indonesia, a former Dutch colony, and again some years later with the arrival of the first African sister.
‘Evangelizing the depths’ a way led by the « Bethasda », association, the ‘Contemplative Exercises’ begun by Father Franz Jalics SJ, and other retreats and movements have helped the sisters to discover inner healing and the importance of reconciliation with oneself and one’s own history. We cannot love the other without loving ourselves, and in order to love ourselves we have to know ourselves. « Excercices contemplatifs » initiés par le père Franz Jalics sj et d’autres retraites et mouvements ont permis aux sœurs de découvrir la guérison intérieure et l’importance de la réconciliation avec soi-même et son histoire. Nous ne pouvons pas aimer l’autre sans nous aimer nous-même, et pour nous aimer, nous avons besoin de nous connaître..
The movement of ‘Evangelical Non-violence’ that people close to the community have shared with the sisters helped us to deepen our understanding of the notion of forgiveness, which has greatly influenced this aspect of our vocation, and is reflected in one of the promises we make at our life commitment:
« Veux-tu, renonçant à toute propriété, dans une attitude intérieure toujours plus désarmée, vivre avec tes sœurs non seulement dans la communauté des biens matériels, mais encore dans celle des biens spirituels en t’efforçant à l’ouverture de cœur et au partage ? »
WHERE WE ARE
Switzerland : – in Grandchamp
France : in the "Fraternité œcuménique à Lomme"
Netherlands : in Woudsend en Frise
in Terre Sainte
From time to time it is not necessarily choice so much as circumstances that oblige a sister to live in a care home or in a home for disabled people – situations where we can share and live in solidarity with so many other people today.
INVOLVEMENTS OUTSIDE THE COMMUNITY
- Networks of religious and /or monastic communities at local, regional, international and ecumenical levels
- The Fraternity of the Suffering Servant
- Ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue
- Movements for reconciliation, justice, peace and the integrity of creation.
BECOMING A SISTER
« Desiring as you do to give your live because of Christ and the Gospel, always keep in mind that you are advancing with him towards the light, even in the midst of your own darkness.” »
(The “little source” of Taizé)
« The new sisters need time to mature, in order to understand the vocation in all its consequences. »
(The “little source” of Taizé, adapted)
THE SPIRITUAL FAMILY
Le Tiers-Ordre de l’Unité