A Word from Valerie Van Cauwenberghe, CSJ Canada

My involvement with Centre International St. Joseph spans several years with very short intervals between those years. Mainly, I was a member of the Centre International St. Joseph Board and attended meetings 2 or 3 times yearly for a few days each time. It has been a pleasure to meet and work with Sisters from the other Federations, from the International Congregations and Argentina, and from many other parts of the globe. We have gained much from each other’s presence, we have worked hard together, faced challenges together, our horizons have been broadened, and I believe the Centre now, 10 years later, continues in a better position to move forward.

Now however I have lived for 2 months as a volunteer at the Centre. Familiarity with a place does not necessarily equate with knowledge of that place. The position of staff member, albeit a volunteer, presents challenges and responsibilities known only superficially to me until now. I have noticed that the only aspect of the job that I had no doubt about when I arrived was how to turn on a tap. Everything else was different by degrees.

Even the city of Le Puy, which was certainly not new to me, presented challenges. I was surprised by this revelation but I remembered that often during the meetings there was not time to explore the city so of course I really did not know my way around very well. Fortunately the winter weather here is not what has been experienced at home. Some days were very sunny and mild while others were wet and cool. The sunny days provided time to walk and become reacquainted with the terrain. There are many lovely walking paths along the river and the old city is filled with remarkable buildings or parts thereof. History lives in this city!

Sr. Line, the only permanent staff member presently, was patient and helpful. We divided up the tasks to be done and rolled up our sleeves each morning. Keeping in mind that visitors and pilgrims would be arriving almost as soon as the renovations were completed, the work of tracking registrations, programs, queries and meetings regarding the construction had to be kept in perspective. Yes, the experience of volunteering for two months during extensive renovations at the Centre in France was a humbling, learning experience which taught me much about myself as well as the ongoing value of a home away from home - Centre International St. Joseph, Le Puy, France.

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