Meeting Young Adults, a Mission of Accompaniment
Sr. Lise Marleau, when speaking about her commitment within the organization Le Phare de Longueuil, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019, said, “I often think of Marie-Rose Durocher, who would reach out to the neglected in her neighbourhood, with her comforting presence which helped everyone, especially youth.”
A member of the Board of Directors since December 2018, following Sr. Suzanne Leclaire who had served for the previous six years, Sr. Lise is also committed to a Prayer Club (Club des priants). This group brings together nearly one hundred people, from a variety of regions, who are spiritually united through prayer. They pray regularly to support, encourage and inspire hope among youth aged 16-35.
Encountering the marginalized
Created in 1999, with the goal of providing a meeting place outside of CEGEP which would allow young people to meet each other, to intermingle, to eat together and to offer certain services within the community, Le Phare de Longueuil has seen its mission evolve with time. The initiative of a group of students, supported by the Saint-Jean-Longueuil Diocese and their pastoral animator at the time, has since expanded its sphere of activity.
Le Phare de Longueuil now brings together youth aged 16-35 who want to meet with marginalized people in our society. The framework provided by the organization allows youth to live, within an educational and safe context, an experience with people who are on the margins of society. Their openness in reaching out to others challenges their prejudices.
The following quote from Sr. Lise helps us better understand how she feels challenged by her work at Le Phare: “This commitment is linked to my openness to the Spirit. I allow myself to be unsettled by what is different and I am impressed to see how the SNJM values of justice, active charity, listening, and the love of people are so well lived at Le Phare.”
The importance of supporting youth
Sr. Lise’s commitment to Le Phare allows her to work for and with young people. In order to contribute to the goals of the organization, she uses all the means at her disposal: the accompaniment of the young people in their project; support of the Prayer Club; collaboration with the secretary; and participation in various activities of the organization, including concerts and conferences. She asserts, “For me, Le Phare de Longueuil has become a new source of renewal.”
Sr. Lise has given extra meaning to her commitment to the Prayer Club by raising the awareness of the Sisters in the local community to which she belongs. And so, every Thursday, at the end of the Liturgy of the Hours which is recited together, the Sisters pray for the mission of Le Phare de Longueuil.
Sr. Lise says she is energized by her contact work within the Prayer Club, through telephone or email with certain members who live far away, and by work on the Administrative Board. “Things that give me life are the dynamic participation of the members of the Administrative Board and their commitment; contact with young people who have been most wounded by life; and all the experiences of solidarity with the young people involved in animating meetings in prisons, in detoxification centers and with homeless people.”
While society has evolved over the past 20 years, Sr. Lise realizes, more than ever, the relevance of continuing to support young people. She concludes, “I believe in the future of young people, despite the very difficult circumstances in which they live. The fact that many young people, from various institutions, are involved in making others happy nurtures my hope. I give thanks for this opportunity to get involved beyond my own community, ‘on the periphery’ as Pope Francis so aptly says.”
November 15 is the date chosen for celebrations to highlight Le Phare de Longueuil`s 20th anniversary.