Pilgrimage to Lyon and Castelnaudary
Lyon: 24-25 June 2006
Founder of SMA in 1856
– Bishop Melchior de Marion BrÃ©sillac –
died on 25 June 1859.
This year the Founder’s Day of the Jubilee Year was a special occasion. SMA members and associates came together at the place where the Society was founded 150 years ago – Lyon, France – at The Basilica of Our Lady of Fourviere.
A Vigil was held on the evening of 24 June at the Basilica. Young people from Lyon using pageantry, poetry, music and scripture, demonstrated the life and history of the SMA before a captive audience in the crypt of the Basilica.
On Sunday 25 June the Mass for the SMA Jubilee was concelebrated in the Basilica and televised all over France. The main celebrant was Cardinal Philippe Barberin, Archbishop of Lyon, who was joined by Cardinal Turkson, Archbishop of Cape Coast (Ghana) and SMA Bishops Jean Bonfils and Patrick Harrington and several other bishops. Archbishop Sarah, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, preached the homily. More than 200 priests concelebrated the Mass.
Following the Mass there was a gathering at the SMA House, Chapanost for a meal and entertainment of a truly international flavour. All the various SMA units worldwide participated.
These days were spent on pilgrimage to the birthplace of Mgr de Marion Bresillac. On Tuesday 27 June, some 40 SMA members travelled by coach to Castelnaudary in South-West France. En route they called at the SMA retirement residence at Montferrier, near Montpellier, where Mass was celebrated with the local community.
Castelnadaudary was reached in the evening. A stroll along the southern bank of the Canal du Midi was followed by a meeting with some parishioners at the Parish Hall. An exchange about the Founder, his life, his town and the progress of the process of beatification took place.
On Wednesday, Morning Prayer was celebrated in the Church of St John where the Founder was baptised. Cardinal Berberin presided. Then followed a procession to the home of Melchior de Marion Bresillac and his family. The Cardinal, the Superior General and the Mayor of Castelnaudary unveiled a commemorative plaque. Mass was then celebrated in the parish Church and was followed by a reception at the parish hall at which speeches were made honouring the pilgrims.
After lunch there was an opportunity to visit in the local cemetery where the parents of the Founder are buried. This was followed by a walk to areas associated with the Founder including a visit to the Canal du Midi where his father had worked.
Then there was the short journey to Carcassonne where the pilgrims stayed at the Abbaye Seminary. There the Founder had undergtaken his studies in preparation for his ordination. A tour of the ancient walled-city by night was made.
On Thursday the long journey back to Lyon brought the pilgrims to Clermont-Ferrand where there is a small SMA House. There the local SMA community and some SMA supporters joined the pilgrims for Mass before the pilgrimage returned to Lyon.