The Saint Symphorien Institute began with a discussion about Birthright- a non-profit organization that sponsors free trips to Israel for young adults
of Jewish ancestry. Participants are encouraged to discover new meaning in their Jewish identity and connect to Jewish history and culture.
My son and I began to wonder what this would look like for Catholics. One might consider the Holy Land or Rome, as these are certainly the beginning
places of the Catholic Faith. With roots in southern Louisiana, however, ours is a faith steeped in the culture of France.
The Eldest Daughter of the Church, as she is affectionately known, became our chosen location.
Next we wondered what this “Catholic Birthright” experience would be. What would participants do?
We found our answer in the monastic tradition. This trip, for Catholics to connect to their history and culture would be modeled after monastic life:
a time and place to step away from the world and the noise of modern life.
We began to include others in our conversations, and each encouraged us by asking an important question or adding to the idea.
Next, we found an historic monastery for sale in France and headed there, excited about the possibilities.
While in France in October 2022, we viewed the Saint Symphorien monastery and felt the Holy Spirit with us all along the way in Paris,
in Lisieux, and other religious sites, both famous and obscure. At Notre Dame de Montligeon, a beautiful basilica in the northwest,
we had a lively discussion with a woman who worked there. To our surprise, she commented on the vibrant faith of American Catholics.
We, on the other hand, marveled at the deposit of faith and rich tradition the French Church enjoys. We each strongly felt the inadequacies
of our own country, while admiring the strengths of the other. We left with an even greater desire to further develop our idea.
Back home, we kept returning to this conversation and a new layer of our project emerged. What if we could graft the relatively new shoots of
American Catholicism onto its French roots? This mutually beneficial relationship might bear much fruit! If France is considered the eldest daughter
of the church, then America is her younger sibling. We can come to the aid of our ailing sister, and she in turn can teach us her wisdom and tradition.
Without the financial means to purchase the monastery, we formed the Saint Symphorien Institute as a means to begin.
Our mission is to deepen Catholics' love for the Church and embolden them to reclaim the culture for Christ.
We will accomplish this through three pillars: restore the body, renew the mind, then reclaim the culture for Christ.
Each is illustrated through the following Scriptural quotes:
Restore the body
“I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1
Renew the mind
“Do not conform yourself to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good
and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2
Reclaim the Culture for Christ
“I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you.” 1 Corinthians 11:2
Rejoignez-nous! Join us!
Join us in our mission to reclaim the culture for Christ! Subscribe to our blog to stay up-to-date and please keep us in your prayers.
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