Waving colorful scarves joyfully in the air in a transformed conference center in Agen, France, a University of Dayton contingent joined thousands of voices from around the globe in the closing song, “Allez,” at the June 10 beatification Mass for Mother Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon.
At that moment, the founder of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate joined Father William Joseph Chaminade, S.M., founder of the Society of Mary, on a path that places both one step closer to sainthood.
“Over the past year, Adèle has come to mean a lot to my faith. I often struggle with my role as a woman in the Catholic church, but our women founders are a source of hope and remind me that God puts no limits on the ways we can be a force of love in this world,” observed Allison Leigh, director of Marianist strategies. “The beatification celebration, in dance, song, tears, prayer, readings and rituals, united a community of thousands, all of whom have been blessed by this woman we have never met.”
That’s just one heartfelt reflection from this year’s participants in the Chaminade Seminar, who spent spring semester in the classroom learning about Marianist history before embarking on a two-week pilgrimage to live it.
“I thought that I had gotten to know her pretty well by reading biographies and some of her letters over the past few years, but she really came to life for me in a special way at her beatification Mass,” said Nick Cardilino, associate director of campus ministry. “Her gentle spirit breathed through the choreography of the young, graceful Vietnamese sisters. Her excitement to offer everything she had shone through the offertory procession in which sisters from Togo sang and danced to the beat of an African drum. Her commitment to deepen the faith of young people was expressed by one of the best youth choirs I have ever heard.”
Others, too, were moved. “Seeing sisters from the U.S. — including our own Laura Leming and Leanne Jabolonski — as well as India, Korea, Japan, Togo, Vietnam and France dance, sing and offer gifts during the ceremony in an expression of love and cultural unity was inspiring,” said Amy Anderson, associate provost for global and intercultural affairs.
Lee Dixon, associate professor and chair of psychology, said he was “struck by the notion that while Adèle was going about her work, it probably never occurred to her that 200 years later thousands of people from around the world would be celebrating her life and what it produced.
“From what I’ve come to understand, Adèle simply followed her heart and day by day did what she felt she was called to do. Surely, this is what we all are meant to do,” he jotted during a quiet moment on the train ride from Bordeaux to Zaragoza, Spain.
John McCombe, director of the Honors Program, had never heard of Agen, a dot on France’s map. “I was struck by the civic pride of this small city that was once Adèle’s home. While the beatification Mass reflected the truly global nature of the Catholic church this weekend, one could never forget that Adèle was a girl born and raised in a particular corner of southwestern France. … And though she is now Blessed Adèle, she will always be Adèle from Agen as well.”
Added Father Joe Kozar, S.M., assistant rector: “She belongs to the people of Agen and France and now to the world.”
(For University of Dayton President Eric Spina's blog about Blessed Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon, click here.)