May 6, 2013

WINNIPEG - Chemin Neuf, an international Catholic community, has put down roots here thanks to the Missionary Oblate Sisters of St. Boniface's gift of its former residence.

Chemin Neuf grew out of a prayer group in Lyon, France in 1973. It now has more than 1,500 members in 27 countries in Europe, Africa, the Americas and the Middle East.

It describes itself as "an apostolic community influenced both by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola and by the charismatic renewal."

Its focus is on missions such as the Cana mission for married couples, sessions for young people and spiritual retreats.

Chemin Neuf in Winnipeg is inviting students or working young adults to join in a Year of Grace, to live together in a Christian community from next September to April.

The community came to Winnipeg in 2010 at the invitation of the archbishop of St. Boniface but was given the sisters' former home in the Winnipeg Archdiocese.

Deacon Ted Wood and his wife Nancy, are coordinators at Chemin Neuf Winnipeg. Wood said in many parts of the world Chemin Neuf "has been blessed by the gifts of houses, most coming from religious communities." In Europe, many are old monasteries.

Dominique Ferry of London described Chemin Neuf's Cana retreat and how it allows "a husband and wife to minister to each other.

"It's where they can talk about their difficulties and tensions. Life does not provide a place to do that, for that you need a place of safety, of love and of prayer."

The Cana retreat is offered in the summer. Couples can bring their children, who are cared for by a team of volunteers.