03/04/2024 | Agenda

Listening to Father Cestac, a witness for today...

On Saturday April 13, a special afternoon was organized at Notre Dame du Refuge, in memory of Father Cestac. A time of (re)discovery through the Refuge, a time of sharing during the chapel celebration and a time of meeting during the snack served in the gardens.

Three evocative locations were chosen to organize meetings, exchanges and moments of sharing around themes for reflection:

Châteauneuf: paying attention to the signs

Louis-Édouard Cestac, a young priest at Bayonne Cathedral who was touched by reality, had welcomed young girls into the attic of Grand Paradis, asking for his help. He carried in his heart a desire, an expectation: where to house these young girls who lived locked up in the attic of Grand Paradis? He saw them in an open space, in touch with nature, but he didn't have the means to buy a property... He visited the Châteauneuf building, a little despite his resistance and letting himself be led by the neighbor living in Latchague: "The neighboring estate is for sale", he told him, "Let's go and see it!".

In the Châteauneuf hall, he saw the painting of Mary Magdalene and read a strong sign. He made up his mind and, poor as he was, set out to buy the estate.


- Do we know how to look and see the reality around us?

Are we affected by this reality?

Can we read calls and signs along the way to encourage us on our journey?

Steles : Mary and women 

"Abbé Cestac's devotion to the Virgin Mary was absolute and compelling. From the very beginning of his work, he placed all his actions and decisions under the gaze of Mary. He trained his own sister and the Servants of Mary in this spirit of marial filiation." (Chiron, p. 211)

He always found his strength in Mary. Since childhood, he has had a special bond with the mother of Jesus. And it is from Mary that he receives the confidence that drives him forward in his mission. For Mary, he sets to work with all his talents. And Mary is always present in his work.

He attached great importance to the young girls who sought his attention: orphans, prostitutes, unschooled country girls... His mission was to take them in and give them a family life, so that they could rediscover a taste for life, dignity and a place in society. We also see women collaborating with him, and it's with their help that he will bring his work to fruition. He shared responsibilities, enabling each woman to develop her abilities and talents in the service of others. 


Where do I find strength in my life? What sustains me?

Faced with the situation of women in society and in the Church today, what can we do? With whom can we move forward?

Nature : source of life

Notre Dame du Refuge is at the heart of nature. The Refuge was created in connection with nature. Abbé Cestac wanted it first and foremost to be a place where people could rebuild and renew themselves in freedom. The work in the fields will also provide food for the large family. It's a place for work, experience and innovation in agriculture, with respect through the use of natural fertilizers. The women we welcomed could enjoy the outdoors and, working together, each brought her own skills to the table. The Sisters led and shared the work in a family spirit.

Today, these fields remain a place of welcome and life for the people who work there, in a spirit of collaboration and respect for nature. They also provide a natural space in the middle of the city, a space for contemplation. 


What is our relationship with nature? 

Do we know how to give concrete expression to our responsibility to safeguard the earth, our common home?

"There was a garden in the place where Jesus had been crucified, and in the garden a new tomb, where no one had been laid. 
There they laid Jesus." (John, 19-41)

The garden has a universal sacredness that unites all cultures and traditions, making it a place of wisdom and humanity. Indeed, the story of the Passion according to Saint John begins in the garden of Gethsemane, and ends in another, where a new tomb will be laid to rest Jesus' body.

Nature invites us to rediscover the sacred at the heart of our existence. Yes, the garden has a universal sacredness that touches us, because it fills a void. It recognizes us intimately. When we contemplate nature, we can welcome a sense of plenitude, of humility before the Father's creative work. In this feeling of abandonment and communion with nature, we can sense a subtle presence that transcends us and connects us intimately to the Creator. The garden remains the very representation of the intimate relationship between Man, Nature, the Cosmos and God...

The simple, spontaneous, generous beauty of the Refuge gardens embodies the essential values of Life, a source of fulfillment for mankind: work, sharing, patience, creativity, constancy, prayer, gratitude, meditation... This abundant nature in the heart of Anglet reminds us that taking care of Nature is also taking care of OURSELVES... The harmony and calm that emanate from this high place allow us to reveal ourselves to ourselves... To meditate...

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