“Since you’ve been with us,
we aren’t poor people anymore!”

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Our First Steps in France: Toulouse, 1986

It was in the early days, we were going to the bishop’s palace when two of our brothers amongst the most underprivileged approached us on one of the large avenues, soon caught up by two, then three other friends: “Sisters, you were with us at the soup kitchen these days!” In fact, we had gone to the soup kitchen several times.

“But then, you are poor!”

Yes, we are little mendicant sisters. Mendicant, mendicant… like we are then? But then, you don’t belong to the Church, that’s not possible since it’s rich… the Pope… the Vatican…!

And all the usual criticisms leveled at the Church were enumerated!

Then, slowly and carefully, we were able to say that it was the Church who sent us toward them to truly be their little sisters. “The Church! …poor, mendicant like us… Then I’m really into that! I’m really into that!”

And as we were leaving for the bishop’s palace, the joy of the poor thanking the Church was filling our hearts… and in our steps, the steps of the poor…

In those days preceding Christmas, we still hadn’t found the place to stay. A good many doors remained closed: enough to lose heart on some days. And the next Sunday, we got together for mass at Rangueil, in the church of our Dominican Friars in Toulouse. We crossed the threshold of the church, lost in our worries to the point of asking ourselves, for the first time I think, what meaning this life of mendicants could have… When all of a sudden, a brotherly and ringing voice made us retrace our steps: it was Pedro the beggar. Like so, so many people, we hadn’t seen him!

-“It’s nice what you do, sister! he called out, you were with us these last few days. Ah! when I saw you, I thought to myself : ah! if “belief” comes to us! And what we were eating wasn’t good, but you know, when I saw you, I started eating heartily!”

With an enthusiastic voice, Pedro was bringing us back to the poorest of our brothers, to that place of joy, when we were there together, them with us, us with them, in the name of Jesus…

It was the time when we were getting to know one another. They were happier every day, and their joy gradually took away our fears, gropings and apprehensions. On both sides, we had difficulty believing in the Good News. Then one day, they made us to jump for joy in the depths of our hearts: “Sisters, since you’ve been with us, we aren’t poor people any more!” We had just heard it: we were committed for ever in this mutual promise of happiness.

The Church affixed her seal on this Promise:

“Be witnesses amongst us of the Wisdom of Christ that is foolishness in the eyes of the world. Let the poorest discover in you a sign of divine tenderness and the brotherly proximity of the Church.” Father A. COLLINI, Archbishop of Toulouse, September 16 1988

On the evening of December 24, our first homeless brothers were watching out for us after mass to wish us “a happy Christmas” and give us the finest of the cakes they had received…

Street beggars, our brothers? Certainly, but I assure you that, on that Christmas night, they had the kingly bearing of the Magi at Bethlehem offering up their presents to the King of kings.

And each day, our eyes opened up: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you sing the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”. (1 Peter 2:9)

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