Angela has spent the last few weeks travelling around France working along side CAFOD’s partner charity Secours Catholique. She began her trip in Paris where she worked with many inspiring people including Guilliaume (who was born in Doncaster!) and is responsible for developing skills and processes to help Secours Catholique’s 1000 staff to support the 64,000 volunteers who are at the forefront of the work. She has been working in the kitchens with the volunteers and staff preparing and serving food and refreshments to the volunteers, pilgrims and visitors of the city.
She got the opportunity to visit the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and said that after arriving in time for Mass, she was struck by the richness of faith and hopes expressed by the pilgrims who brought themselves and their private petitions to the altar for healing, reconciliation and lives made new.
The chapel contains the body of St Catherine Laboure and her life story is truly inspiring. Born in the early part of the 1800’s, at a time of a peak in capitalism and widespread suffering amongst the disadvantaged. She was a great admirer of St Vincent de Paul and her response was to join the community of The Daughters of Charity. She devoted her life to serving the sick and bringing comfort to the poor, St Catherine is a Saint for our times.
Ironically, the chapel is on the Rue du Bac, currently, one of the most exclusive areas in Paris. Angela later discovered that the guard on the corner of the road was on duty to maintain a discrete watch over one of the private offices of the president of France making her wonder what St Catherine would make of being laid to rest in such a prestigious neighborhood. Angela said that ‘She was known for her humility and discretion. But God uses every situation we find ourselves in, and for me, the legacy of St Catherine puts into stark relief the disparity of the world we live in today. The chapel, the final resting place of St Catherine is the jewel of the prestigious neighborhood, a beacon of hope, and open to all.’