Marthe Robin and Fr Georges Finet
The Foyers de Charité were founded in 1936 as a result of the meeting between Marthe Robin (1902-1981) and a priest of the diocese of Lyon, Fr Georges Finet (1898-1990).
Marthe, who had been sick since the age of 16, was bedridden in her house in Châteauneuf-de-Galaure, a small village in the Drôme. She experienced the illness in an intense mystical union with God, surrendered to Mary. Her inner union with Jesus was such that, every Friday, she experienced the sufferings of the Passion of Christ.
Shortly afterwards, she received from God the inspiration to open “foyers of light, charity and love” for the renewal of the Church and the evangelisation of the world.
On 10 February 1936, Fr Finet met this radiant young woman despite her illness. Marthe spoke to him about the plan that God had entrusted to her. On behalf of the Lord, she asked him to found the first Foyer de Charité in Châteauneuf-de-Galaure and to preach retreats for five days in silence. Fr Finet agreed after initially being taken aback. The first retreat took place in September 1936 in the girls’ school of Châteauneuf-de-Galaure. A few months later, Fr Finet obtained permission from his bishop to fulfil his mission on a full-time basis at Châteauneuf.
Marthe Robin’s fruitful spiritual life
Marthe’s radiating influence was extraordinary as she welcomed thousands of visitors, one after the other, in her small room of Châteauneuf-de-Galaure. She experienced an inner silence that deepened over time, to the point where she surrendered herself totally to the will and merciful love of God. She interceded for each person, particularly for priests. Until the very end of her life, she supported the efforts made to obtain the recognition of the Foyers de Charité as a lay community, which was concluded in 1986. At the time of her death, 52 Foyers de Charité had been founded.
Marthe lived out her holiness in a simple and humble way. Subsequently, the members of the Foyers de Charité, both lay people and priests, and all those who received her call to work for the renewal of the Church, made their own commitment to follow in her footsteps.
I came to a retreat after losing my husband, following a long illness, during which I felt helpless in the face of the suffering and death. One year passed by. Thanks to the teaching received during the retreat, I learned to be a witness to Christ, without shame, in the peace of Christ, in this world of physical and mental suffering that I come across daily through my medical profession.
On leaving, we are all loaded up with the teaching we have received. We are filled with hope, thanks to the opportunity of living like a genuine Christian family during the course of the week. We met people from every walk of life, all gathered together by the same Spirit of Charity that we want to pass on to our friends and family.
After drifting away from the faith during her teenage years, Laure rediscovered Christ as an adult. “Spending a week with the Lord” is now an essential part of her life. She experienced a spiritual retreat in a Foyer de Charité. An annual encounter that is vital for her “to return to the daily routine with a fresh infusion of joy”.
I felt that my work situation was a complete failure. I did not want to hear any talk about the Church.
Having rebelled violently against my alcoholic father who destroyed my childhood and youth through physical and psychological abuse, I could sense how chaotic my life was.
During the retreat, I personally experienced the tenderness and mercy of the love of Christ. I was able to begin a process of reconciliation within myself and with those who hurt me, especially my father, with whom I was able to re-establish relations. Since then, I have been experiencing deep peace and joy. I am born again to a new life. He is the one who leads the way and opens up a real path to freedom.
married with 3 children
Lucile and Patrick go on a spiritual retreat each year in a Foyer de Charité. They appreciate the welcome of the community, the quality of the teaching and the essential break in a very busy life.
After six days of being “waited on hand and foot, and nourished spiritually”, they return from their stay in a foyer feeling pacified, regenerated and reunified… For them, “a retreat in a Foyer de Charité is worth 10 Club Med holidays!”
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