What was your background?
My parents were farmers in Britanny. Since I was 14, after receiving my graduation certificate, I stayed at home to help my mother with the housework and my father working in the fields. Soon I joined the Catholic Agricultural Youth Women (JACF) Action Movement which I loved.
At the age of 25 I went off to exercise my chosen profession – rural homemaking. I married a farmer from our town and we were married for 30 years. Together we managed a farm with many different crops and livestock until my retirement in 1998.
My husband was a dynamic person, involved with youth, the Church, and very active in a local Catholic Action group. Frail and often depressed, he suffered all his life from the result of a fall from his horse when he was only seven years of age.
In 1986 his condition worsened and, from there on, I concentrated on supported our family. I did my best to continue to raise our four children – two girls and two boys. Now our daughters are married. Presently I make the time to take my turn caring for my grandchildren – five in all!
How did you survive these challenges?
It was particularly difficult but I attribute my survival to my faith and my commitment to a group called the “Christians in Rural Areas (CMR)”. I also served as a catechist for ten years and benefited from formation in Bible studies. Our meetings supported my hope in the future.
Since my husband’s illness in 1986, I had pulled back on my commitments due to time constraints and fatigue. But lately I have once again resumed some of my activities. In later years I managed to survive cancer and had a slight stroke and recurring hearing problems.
How did you get involved with La Salette?
Although my cousin, Pierre Bihan-Poudec, was a La Salette Missionary, I did not know about the La Salette Shrine. I went to Lourdes several times with the diocesan pilgrimage and a group called “Amitié-Espérance (Friendship and Hope)”.
One day, a friend told me about La Salette as a place that could suit me with their handicap-accessed accommodations, their fine food and beautiful Shrine Basilica. I went with our diocesan pilgrimage in 2012 and from the outset I have been wonderfully overwhelmed by its friendly and prayerful atmosphere.
I enjoyed the nightly Rosary Procession, and the basic but deep message of Mary to the two children. The Beautiful Lady was interested in her people and in their concerns. This for me in an experience of true community and made me think back on my meetings with the “Christians in Rural Areas (CMR)”.
La Salette is in a beautiful location, imminently suitable for prayer. I appreciate the celebration of Mass, the testimonies of pilgrims, the prayer meetings, and especially its emphasis on Reconciliation. I am eager to learn more in order to feed my faith. Many things about it interest me.
How did you get to know about La Salette’s connection with Palestine?
In 2013, during the National Meeting of La Salette Laity on the Holy Mountain of La Salette, I got to know a Palestinian woman, Violet Khourv, a resident of Nazareth. Her words made me want to know more about the Holy Land.
I then made a pilgrimage the following year to the Holy Land, led by Fr. Marcel Schlewer, M.S. I have unforgettable memories of meeting wonderful people and of the very moving testimonies shared with us. I went home with a much deeper appreciation of the land that Jesus walked.
Consequently I have reevaluated my own personal challenges and have seen other people who move on in hope despite many more challenges than I face. And I continually wonder how all these persecuted Christians of the Middle East manage to survive!
What would you like to say to Jesus and Mary at the end of your earthly journey?
I would express my deep thankfulness to them for all the graces I have received to endure my own challenges and remain faithful to God.
(Reprinted with permission from the La Salette Publication, Les Annales,
vol. 245, March-April, 2015, “Yvonne, femme de foi en terre Bretonne”, pgs. 22-23, edited)