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Famille Solitude Myriam. (Lay Movements XXI).

Solitude Myriam is a life-giving spiritual family of healing and hope, founded in Quebec, that welcomes those who are suffering from divorce or separation. Members of Solitude Myriam offer understanding and compassion from their own experience to people whose personal lives and families are wounded by a broken marriage. They give assistance to others to find strength to forgive, to love and trust again, to discover joy and renewed support in Christ and the Church.

These divorced men and women gain freedom to choose not to begin a new life with another partner but rather to continue their vocation of marriage. They learn to receive grace for their family in faithfulness to their sacramental marriage vows, even as they live "in solitude," without their spouse. Some members live in community, most remain in their own homes. As described in the founding vision, they are to see themselves not as "divorces" but rather as "consacres," those consecrated to Christ.

The Family also assists with marriage preparation classes for engaged couples. Their fervent witness to the indissolubility, power and beauty of the marriage covenant has also attracted people with solid marriages for formation in Catholic teaching on the sacrament of marriage. Some of these have become members.

How did it start?

Danielle Bourgeois, a Catholic, was divorced and living common-law outside the Church and the Sacraments with Maurice Chartrand, future co-founder The Lord was nudging and calling her back home to His heart and His Church, but she found it difficult to respond. Danielle eventually spent eight months with the community of Myriam Bethlehem in Baie Comeau to seek God and His will. She was reconciled with the Church, her prayer life blossomed, and she sensed that God had a special mission for her. She knew that she was called to live a celibate life and a fidelity to her original marriage vows. With the encouragement and counsel of the bishop, Maurice too found the strength to accept this as a way of life.

Men and women whose lives and families were shattered by divorce or separation began gathering in their home, asking their help. With the advice of their bishop and their spiritual director, Danielle and Maurice began the work of Famille Solitude Myriam in 1981. "For several years we had been begging God that the Church would come to our aid. Solitude Myriam was the answer to our prayers!" writes Celine Tisseur of herself and some friends who were all suffering the throes of divorce, separation, and broken families.

In 1984, the Fathers of the Holy Cross gave Solitude Myriam a large house at Mirabel, just outside Montreal. Here some members of the community began a communal life in the service of their wounded brothers and sisters through prayer, hospitality, sharing, and evangelization. In 1989, single persons also became members of Solitude Myriam, consecrating their lives to God for the unity of families. Widows, widowers, priests, and children are part of the Family today as well.

At the movement's fifteenth anniversary celebration, Danielle's bishop, Charles Valois, affirmed, "The bishops to whom Danielle Bourgeois presented her project always received it with joy. They saw in this movement an action of the Holy Spirit who doesn't want to abandon the Father's children." Said another enthusiastic bishop, "There is nothing like this." At the twentieth anniversary celebration, April 2002, there were seven bishops in attendance.

This spiritual family now has over 400 members, at present primarily French-speaking with four houses in Quebec and groups that meet in several cities both in Quebec and Ontario. It has spread to France, Guadeloupe, Reunion Island (Indian Ocean), Martinique (West Indies), Switzerland, Brazil, and Argentina.

To contact the group Famille Solitude Myriam, 11120 route Arthur Sauve, Mirabel, QC, J7N 2T9, Phone (450) 258-4200, Fax: (450) 258-1718.
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Title Annotation:Quebec
Author:Wilson, Ann
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:1CQUE
Date:May 1, 2003
Previous Article:Couples for Christ. (Lay Movements XXI).
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