Bon Anniversaire, Nichole!

As I write, it after midnight which means it is Nichole’s 30th birthday (it is also my 42nd birthday, but that is not the point of my story)! We have discussed it at various points this week, and it has been a point of reflection for me as we have traveled on our journey. The last time I came to France, it was a month or so after my 30th birthday. I was here for work like I am currently, but as I compare and contrast those trips, I cannot believe the differences (along with a few similarities).

The last time I was in France it was a whirlwind of appointments and meetings, I never once stepped into a church, a chapel, or a cathedral and I barely took a moment to consider what I was seeing (except for the fabrics I selected at the fabric show). While this trip has been no less busy and I am equally exhausted, it has been incredible to have our focus be to take in our surroundings and consider them in the context of our work, our personal lives, and our faith. It has been a wonderful balance of history, reflection, and community.

Throughout our time in LeMans, Ahuillé, and Laigné-en-Belin, we have heard the story of Fr. Moreau saying yes to the request to send Fr. Sorin and the Brothers to Indiana, and I am amazed by the sacrifices that had to be made to make the trip possible. I don’t know that I fully understood the magnitude of such a request. It required incredible faith and vision, and it speaks to how important education was to Moreau. As I reflect on the time of my previous trip to now, I am struck by their sacrifices and by what it means to love what you do. While I enjoyed my career during my last trip to France, I would not say that I was particularly fulfilled by my work. I cannot articulate how grateful I am that Fr. Moreau, Fr. Sorin, and the Brothers were willing to take a risk and believed their mission would succeed. Their faith has provided a new career path for me in work that I truly love.

The trip does have similarities, too. Like my last trip to France, I am enjoying excellent meals, but most importantly I am traveling with an amazing group of colleagues (including our hosts. Fr. John De Riso, C.S.C., Rector of the Shrine of Blessed Basil Moreau and Tiphaine Hamerel). Each of my fellow pilgrims has enriched this trip for me. And for that, I am most grateful.

So, to my fellow pilgrim, Nichole, Bon Anniversaire! Thank you for providing an additional catalyst for reflection by turning 30!

PS-As an FYI, I do not believe I am going to be in trouble for sharing Nichole’s age since she has publicly shared it as well (but on the off-chance I am in trouble, I promise to make it up to her with a birthday pastry or one of Willerton’s baguettes).

Written by Lissa Bill