What an exciting time I had. First I took the train from Annecy to Chambery and was able to get on the right train and get off at the right place. I kind of understood the public service announcements and with the help of knowing when my train was to leave and arrive, I made sure I did it right.
I had lunch with the Sisters in Chambery. For my first meal I am sitting at a table that has two sisters who speak English. Additionally, one of the other sisters is a cousin of Sister St. John Facemaz, one of the sisters who came from France to the United States. I used my French as pitiful as it is and then the sisters would translate anything that was more complicated.
Late in the afternoon Sr. Marie Pierre and I went to Aix Les Bains. This was the first place that the sisters served in the diocese of Chambery. It is said that Cardinal Fesch was so struck by the physical and moral misery of the children and young girls of the town, that he invited the Sisters of St. Joseph to go there to remedy the situation. Somehow, he forgot to mention this to the local bishop so when they arrived, no one was expecting them. However, it worked out. Shortly after that, the Archbishop of Solle asked for the Sisters from Lyon to come to Chambery in the same diocese.
Interestingly, once the sisters were authorized to proceed with their work in Aix Les Bains, it appears they may have been neglected for a while. When the Cardinal came to see them he sat on a broken bench and used his knees for a table. He sent someone immediately to buy furnishings and shortly after that others help provide for their work.
I have attached a picture of a hotel which was once a school that the sisters operated and the church at which they worshipped. I have also attached some pictures of the town hall. Also, I have attached a photo of an arch built by the Romans while they were in this area.
Another interesting fact about Aix Les Bains is that it has a hot springs which was long used to treat rheumatism. The sisters, some of whom were nurses, would meet with the visitors, assist them at the baths and generally just talk and comfort the visitors hoping for a cure.
I enjoyed the tour of the town but have to say that I was far more interested in my conversation with Sr. Marie Pierre. She speaks English very well and was explaining the difficulties of getting people to agree about translations since it is not just translating words but conveying meaning. So, knowing how a group speaking the same language can often have different understandings of the same meeting, it is easy to understand how complex international communications can be. Then she explained, in a way I had never understood before why we have changed our language from talking about the “International Family of St. Joseph” to the “Global Family of St. Joseph.” International seems to imply people of nations and now our global emphasis is meant to take in all that occupies our globe, the people, the trees, the animals, and all parts of our globe. I am sure many people have heard this before but for me, it was the way she said it that was so profound and simple.
Sr. Marie Pierre is also helping me by correcting my French pronunciation so she has quite a task. I’ll keep you posted about my further adventures in Chambery.