• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Accueil Main aspects of our lives Consecrated Lay women

From Nazareth: can anything good come out?


france French : Sophie M  

I am a speech- therapist, and very early on, well before joining the fraternity, I have felt that this was the place where I was to live the Gospel, in my job, and in particular in my relations with my patients. Beyond the “technical” aspect, speech- therapy is always an encounter, a  history shared between the patient, his family and myself. Just as Jesus invited himself among the people of Nazareth, I am invited to come into the life of a family, in a limited way, of course, but we do have a portion of life in common.

  The first encounter is always an adventure: someone else, the patient himself or his family, comes to seek help. It may be for a 3-year old toddler who can only speak a few words, or for the older brother who is dropping out of school because he suffers from dyslexia or some other problem and he feels rejected, judged, good for nothing, or it may be for an adult who has suffered a brain attack and can no longer speak, or read, or write, or even understand his relatives.                       

Then, a journey begins with them, which will generally last a few months, sometimes a few years. More than ever I feel  I have to be in the service of these families, not really to cure them (it is not as simple as that), but to find out how we can make progress together, taking into account the past life of the family. During this journey, everyone must be able to find and take his proper place.   


In our successive meetings, I often get to hear about the happy or unhappy events of their the family life. For a while, I witness  the life of these families, and to some extent I become part of it, as everything that touches them also touches me

In front of these families, and especially in times of trial, I feel very humble, and also deeply respectful because they exert a lot of energy to get out of trouble. In the toughest cases, the professional  help I can  offer is insignificant, but I feel  that what is important is my way of “being with “ them:

- Taking time to listen, or trying to put words on the expressions of their faces, or their gestures, or accepting their anger or tears. Giving hope, but trying to remain sincere all the same.

- With children and teenagers, I have to be one of the people who accompany them, who help them grow up, by giving them guidelines, by creating a climate of dialogue, by giving courage or confidence.


This life of relationships makes up my Nazareth. But I could not dwell there without a life of prayer and union with Jesus: these moments of prayer, when I entrust my days, my encounters- planned or unforeseen- all these faces, all these histories, to place them in God’s heart. 


Prayer, in which I receive the “daily bread” to be really in service, attentive, and to keep faith in the other


There also the days where I take time off to be able to attend mass and the great    important gatherings in our parish life, these blank pages on the agenda, which are set aside to live a day of desert, or  meetings with the Christian youth group of the secondary school, or spend a week in Taizé .All these moments when I get awafrom the world for a while, like Jesus who never forgets His relationship to His father :”Didn’t you know that I must be in my  Father’s house?”





     My progression in the fraternity, and the grace of my first consecration have led me to consider another approach to my work, both to  bring my workplace closer to my home to avoid dispersal, and to get closer to the poor. Whereas I had  been working with a rural group practice, I felt impelled to  begin a new practice in a working class section of the city where I live.   

When I looked at a map of the city and the existing practices, I realized that there was a huge section of town without any speech therapists, although there was a dense population and especially a lot of families.                                                                                             

I was well aware of the reputation of this section:  a “hot” neighbourhood, the kind of neighbourhood that “pure“ French people flee, because of the increasing presence of North African  population. I felt that something important was at stake, in my  going into this poor neighbourhood , where the demand was so great,  in going towards people rather than expecting them to  come to us, being in their midst. Like Charles de Foucauld, who wanted to get close to the most excluded, the most remote.

Like Jesus, who did not choose Jerusalem but the small village of Nazareth, whose reputation was not very good either:  “From Nazareth? Can anything good come from that place? ( John 1, 46).


 The work is the same, but I have to adjust to different habits, different interests, and I realize how important this common journey , this mutual knowledge is . Most of the families I encounter are in situations of great poverty, they are broken families, their life is one of insecurity about the future, of violence, sometimes, or they are from North African origin and language remains a barrier.

I have to discover what the reality of their everyday life is, in order to understand them better, and to help them better. For that purpose, I try to be present to the life of the neighbourhood  ( the Christmas market, the meals served at the socio-cultural centre, but also the inter-religious meetings sponsored by the local parish).                                                                                                             

All these are opportunities to meet my patients outside my practice, and whenever it happens, I always perceive a real joy in my young patients, and sometimes even I feel they are proud to be able to tell their school - mates :”she is my speech- therapist”.

I had been driving through this section for ages, but I did not know much about the life of the people .After two years among these families, I begin to understand their frailties, their social and moral distress, but also their courage and their sense of solidarity. I still have a lot to discover, but every encounter, either for therapy or in the neighbourhood, is an opportunity to get closer and let FRATERNITY  increase between us

La première rencontre est toujours une aventure : l'autre, le patient ou sa famille, vient demander de l'aide, que ce soit pour le petit bonhomme de trois ans qui ne dit que quelques mots, pour le plus grand en échec scolaire, dyslexique ou autre, qui se sent rejeté, jugé, incapable, ou encore l'adulte qui, suite à un accident vasculaire cérébral, se retrouve brutalement sans pouvoir parler, ni lire, ni écrire, parfois aussi sans comprendre son entourage.
A chaque fois, c'est la souffrance du patient, même si elle ne peut pas s'exprimer avec des mots, l'inquiétude de l'entourage, et la confiance qui m'est donnée presque toujours d'emblée, pour apporter « la solution » au problème.