In Belle-Île-en-Mer, find a Christian response to suffering



Seated around a table, five young adults surround Sister Anne-Claire Tessier. “Do we deserve to suffer? “

” No, of course ! “, answer the participants in concert, almost indignant. Surrounded by several stone houses with blue shutters, about twenty of them reflect in small groups on the theme of suffering. In the hamlet of Kergallic, in the heart of Belle-Île-en-Mer (Morbihan), Dominican friars organize, as every year, the summer sessions “ThéoDom” (see below), proposals combining theological teachings, activities and relaxation for students and young professionals. The second session of the year, which opened on August 8 and will end on Sunday 14, has as its theme “Will Evil have the last word?” “.

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“We wanted to do something that resonates with the pandemic but which is also more broadened”, explains Sister Anne-Claire, member of the organizing team. “The idea is to show how to find Christian hope in suffering”, adds Brother Andreas Riis, responsible for the session.

These spiritual vacations offer a welcome breath of fresh air to these young people after a year that was, for some of them, difficult. “I don’t know how long it has been since I met people I didn’t know”, Agathe confides, while cutting watermelons and melons for lunch. The 28-year-old had moved to Lyon, a city where she didn’t know anyone, before the pandemic froze all her plans. “I was alone in teleworking, the doctor ended up stopping me for exhaustion. ” While dates played a decisive role in her participation in this session, she admits that the theme ties in with her personal experience.

Understand the suffering of the other

Like Agathe, Constance (1), 24, had a painful experience of the pandemic. Hospitalized for depression for three weeks in February, she kept in touch with the long-term patients she met in psychiatry. “It’s a chance for me to be here, to learn to better understand their suffering. “

→ TESTIMONIALS. Covid-19: young people facing the pandemic, four testimonies

The disease, Marie is confronted with it on a daily basis. In her neurology department at the hospital, she bears the suffering of her patients. “Many ask meWhy me ? it’s unfair, i didn’t do anything wrong.I came to look for answers ”, she says.

Dominican Voices, live what we sing

In a garage with rough concrete block walls converted into a classroom, the first theological course of the week is taught, inspired by the book of Job, which in the Bible is “Remained faithful to God despite the calamities”. But the hopes of a clear-cut answer are quickly showered. “Science explains how we suffer, but the question of why no one can answer, not even religion”, teaches Brother Olivier Catel, a biblical scholar in Jerusalem, whose voice is heard above the sound of the rain on the tin roof.

At the end of the course, the sun sets in for good, heralding an afternoon at the beach, during which young people and organizers alike will enjoy the sea, board games on the sand and more informal discussions. “They are young people, of course, but they are working. Rest and relaxation is also an objective ”, indicates Élodie Bonin, communication manager for Dominican youth.

“The place is suitable”

More than rest, it is an exotic setting that Étienne (1) came looking for, who took part in a session five years ago. For him, the health crisis meant a long wait before finding work. “I was hired in June, he relates. As soon as I could, I took three weeks of unpaid leave to come. “

“The island is beautiful and the place soothing, enthuses Gonzaga, who returns to Kergallic for the third time. It lends itself perfectly to what we are doing. ““It is true that I have more requests for Belle-Île than for those in the monastery of Chalais (Isère)”, smiles Brother Emmanuel Dumont, responsible for the website.

The proposal stands out for its form. “There are many initiatives for young Catholics in the summer, but they are rarely theological”Xavier rejoices. To deepen the lessons, participants also studied texts by thinkers who tried to answer the question of “why do we suffer? And have worked on war and disability. “In adulthood we see more clearly the suffering and injustice that surrounds us, sums up Henri, employee in mass distribution. So now is the time to understand what the Church is telling us on this subject. “

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ThéoDom is also available in video

The idea germinated during the Belliloise sessions. For three years now, the Dominicans of the province of France have launched, on the TheoDom site and on their YouTube channel, several series of videos devoted to a particular theme. “It looks like micro-learning (learning method favoring very short formats, Editor’s note), indicates Brother Emmanuel Dumont, responsible for the website. These are videos of five to six minutes on average to deepen your knowledge on a specific subject. “

A series will be devoted in particular to the theme of the Kergallic session in January, after the redesign of the site. Until then, Bible scholar Oliver Catel will present a series on the theme of the Book of Genesis in October.

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