"A people without memory is a people without a future." -Aimé Césaire

The project’s origin

In 2010-2011, Sr. Odile Gaillard and the Leadership Council of the Institute asked me to assume responsibility for the Archives of Le Puy en Velay with the task of reconsidering its organization once the major work would be accomplished.

It focused on two aspects:

  • The preservation of the Archives and the conditions for their consultation
  • Welcoming the public by making the Archives display more attractive and easier to access today.

Scenography

Using today’s technology, we thought of setting up a Scenography to enable visitors to enter our history and provide them an opportunity to experience it.

With Sister Catherine Louis and Sister Thérèse Chantal Charras, we worked for 2 years in developing this project from 2012 to 2014. It was clear to us that it was necessary to present an intuition and its evolvement over time, an intuition that has endured the passage of time through its turbulences.

We have presented a time based sequence with 3 axis:

  • A general history: the history of France,
  • A particular history: the history of the Church in France and
  • ‚ÄčA unique history: the history of our Foundation

This course of events is "woven" into the gospel of Luke and the "Eucharistic Letter."

We used precise “chronological milestones”:

  • What preceded the foundation, the end of the religious wars, and up to 1994 when the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Le Puy fades into the Institute of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
  • We had to set limits considering the available space and the wide range of people that would be passing through.

That is why we contacted Mr. Fortunier from the "Muséophone" Enterprise in Saint Etienne, to implement this work. The project "allows one to see and to hear," that is to say, as visitors stroll through the time line they are invited to pause and listen to excerpts from the Gospel of Luke and the Eucharistic Letter. So as to enter fully in this unique history, music will be diffused from the main room allowing the person to internalize what is discovered.

Preservation

The other important aspect, Sister Edna McKeever (USA Sister archivist) had emphasized, is the preservation of certain pieces of the collection, especially photos and ancient papers. We contacted several designer studios:

  • Madame Catrin, of Lyon restored major photos, paintings displayed, particularly the one on the vows giving it a new lease of life.
  • At the Heritage Studio in Bordeaux, Madame Sebin advised us on documents that needed restoration. The studio did an absolutely amazing job in restoring a good number of documents and making facsimiles to protect the originals.

The project took longer than expected. But its achievement is realized today, thanks to the generous donation of Mr. Rogers and through the investment of the Institute of the Sisters of St. Joseph, rewards the efforts of all those who worked to make this space a heritage place from where we can perhaps draw on essential elements to build our future.