This summer, MaryAnn and I had the privilege to attend the Congress of CVX France. We were invited by a French couple who we had met when they were on holiday in Malta in July 2013. Dominique and Gonzague were very generous in their hospitality, even though they were busy with the organisation of the Congress, and even hosted us in their home for a brief holiday afterwards.
The Congress of CVX France is held every three years and is an event on a large scale. There were more than 2500 participants from all over France and more than 100 guests, like us, from CLC all over the world. This year the Congress was held in a conference centre in the town of Cergy-Pontoise, on the outskirts of Paris, from July 31 to August 2. Having been involved in the preparation of our weekend seminars, I could appreciate the feat of organisation. Imagine the logistics of accomadation for all these people, imagine providing them with simple but healthy meals, imagine organising 250 workshops, mostly off-site, around Paris. What was most impressive for me is that even with with so many people there was an atmosphere that was always inspiring and joyful, often prayerful and sometimes moving. Music and singing was an important part of the experience throughout, in times of prayer and liturgy, and between sessions. There was a band and choir always present, and the songs were composed specially for the Congress.
The theme of the Congress was “Come to the well of encounter”, based on the text of Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-42). This is a very rich text with various themes that were taken up in the comprehensive preparatory booklet (helpfully translated into English). Incidentally, this booklet can provide the basis for a number of community meetings or a retreat! For us the theme of Encounter was especially real, since we were the ‘strangers’ who were welcomed, and both we and the people we met had to make the effort to overcome the barrier of language.
The theme was developed through various speakers, workshops and small group sharing, together with times of prayer and the Sunday Liturgy which was celebrated by the bishop of Cergy Pontoise, Mgr Stanislas Lalanne.
I look back on this experience with gratitude: for the generosity of the welcome, for new friendships made and others renewed, for the widening of horizons and the deepening of joy and hope of belonging to CLC.
You can get a feel of the sights, the music and the faces of the Congress from this video!
Saviour Borg (R.O.D.S.)