Christmas and New Year’s Eve: 5 initiatives so that no one is left alone

In Aubervilliers, a festive, missionary and solidarity dinner


Marie, Joseph, a real donkey and children disguised as angels, shepherds or little pages for a parade in the streets of Aubervilliers on December 24: with the parish of Saint-Paul-du-Montfort, the Misericordia centre, a work of Church which lives compassion and evangelization on the outskirts of the metropolises, has seen the big picture to announce the joy of Christmas to the inhabitants of the district where it is established. “At each stop, we tell the story of Christmas and we pray, microphone in hand, for specific intentions, such as people who suffer from addiction, fathers, mothers and children in the neighborhood. We hope to touch the hearts of all those who hear us from the towers of the cities we cross “explains Alexandra Dabas, missionary this year within Misericordia.

This living nativity scene is also an opportunity to invite people to Christmas mass, which will be followed by a dinner prepared for more than one hundred and fifty neighbours, parishioners and friends of the center (1). Smoked salmon, chocolate log and distribution of gifts for children, the atmosphere is both family and festive. “Jesus was born poor, so by organizing a Christmas dinner for the poor, we want to promote the dignity of each person and create fraternity”, continues Alexandra. Guests of all religious denominations can participate in the blessing of families in front of the nativity scene. “Whatever their cultural or religious distance, or their material difficulties, we would like them to be able to experience the graces of Christmas and we announce to them the coming of Jesus into the world! » (Anne-Francoise de Taillandier)
(1) A similar initiative is planned by Misericordia in Nantes on December 25,

In Paris, solidarity at the prison health center


Providing Christmas food parcels to “indigent” detainees at the Santé prison in Paris is the commitment of the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Society (SSVP) with other solidarity associations. including Cimade, the Little Brothers of the Poor and Secours Catholique. “Indigent”, because, not receiving visits from their family, they are the most isolated among all the detainees, “We were told, at the beginning, that we would need 200 packages. Then it was a bit more. Now we are at 280”, explains Jérôme Perrin, the highest Parisian official of the SSVP. This year, his association is supporting sixty-five of these packages. Inside, cookies, chocolate bars, dried fruits, honey in a tube, papillotes and other victuals accompanied by a greeting card. In view of the reopening of the prison in January 2019, the prison administration wanted to mobilize the voluntary sector.

The commitment of the association comes from there, in connection with the diocesan vicariate of Solidarity, and under the historical links between this prison and the nearest Saint-Vincent-de-Paul conference, which are now extended to conferences other districts of the capital. This fifth edition of the operation will have a new side: for the first time, the volunteers will deliver the parcels directly to the detainees rather than doing it through the penitentiary service of integration and probation. “This will allow us to say a few words to them and to give them a look, rejoices in advance Jérôme Perrin. Nothing like a look, because that’s where brotherhood goes. » (Guilhem Dargnies)

In Charente, New Year’s Eve on December 31 in a future Christian third place


In Barbezieux-Saint-Hilaire, a village in the south-west of Charente with less than five thousand souls, RCF listeners were able to receive the information, as well as people locally in contact with solidarity associations: parishioners will celebrate the transition to the new year with all those who will want to join them. Meals, games, music and dancing will be offered that evening. But, in reality, the program is open: “It will depend on the participants”, explains Thomas Masurel, one of the conductors, who also proposes a time of adoration from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., before the place allocated to the event opens. In fact, this New Year’s Eve is one of the activities of the organizing association Le Fraternel, whose statutes were filed this summer. His ultimate project? Transform the dedicated parish hall into a café open to all, on the claimed model of Christian third places, such as Le Simone in Lyon or Le Dorothy in Paris (1). With, in the future, theme evenings, debates and theatre. “It will be a little different, because we are in the countryside. »

“The goal is to try to forge links in the parish between the different generations and also to be open to our town and the small surrounding villages”, says Thomas Masurel. The latter associates the approach of his association with “indirect” evangelization. Something, according to him, “very simple” that starts from a “beautiful” idea that is nothing new: “Rediscovering the simplicity of the relationship with the other. » The demand is already there: on market days, during which the association ensures a permanent presence with members trained in listening. “People of all ages are already passing through. »
(1) Funding assistance is possible. Information: 07 81 99 95 27. (Guilhem Dargnies)

In Montligeon, spinnaker and friendly sessions


Single parents, people experiencing bereavement, singles, isolated families… For all those who are plunged into anguish and sadness by the arrival of the Christmas and New Year holidays, the sanctuary of Montligeon, in the Perche, opens wide its doors. “With the rise of individualism, these periods are increasingly painful for more and more people”, notes don Paul Denizot, the rector of the place. The pain of single parents who do not have custody of their children, of bereaved people whose absence of a loved one is then more cruelly felt, or of those whose family relationships are difficult or non-existent… “Loneliness is the poverty of our Western countries,” continues the priest of the Saint-Martin Community. I went to Calcutta and Africa. Poverty exists, but people take care of each other. Look at the Lebanese who are going through a deep economic crisis: they are united, supported by the diaspora. If the same thing happened in France, it would be appalling. What our Western world needs first and foremost is presence, communion. » Two sessions, open to all, are organized: from December 23 to 26 to celebrate Christmas, from December 30 to January 1 to celebrate the New Year. On the program: lessons, offices, walks, evenings, games, Christmas Eve. “People meet, friendships are made. All this happens with great delicacy and joyemphasizes Don Paul. We are the first to deplore the fact that Christmas has become a commercial holiday. Having concern for isolated people is a way to re-Christianize it! » And what better way than to start the year with the Mass for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God? (Elisabeth Caillemer)
Information on

A cruise on the Seine through the capital


A New Year’s Eve on December 24 aboard a Parisian barge is the promise made by Secours Catholique to more than six hundred people welcomed in the association’s various structures in the Ile-de-France region. A promise kept since 2010, with the exception of interruptions linked to Covid. “We want to bring the magic of Christmas to the people we meet. Waking up aboard a barge on the Seine fully contributes to this”, explains Myriam Longomba, who is in charge of events within the association. Secours Catholique has been organizing Christmas Eve celebrations for eighteen years. “Coming to the foot of the Eiffel Tower which lights up and then boarding the boats is magic. Everyone has stars in their eyes! Especially families who sometimes have never been to Paris, even though they don’t live very far away. »

This year, six barges should set sail from Port Debilly, near the Iéna metro station, circumnavigate Île Saint-Louis and return after an hour and a half of navigation. In the afternoon, volunteers from the association will be on site to decorate the river boats. Families will be expected there from 6 p.m. for a mulled wine aperitif or mint tea. Then, it will be the departure for the river cruise during which the dinner will take place, before a dancing evening. Some animations are also planned with a sharing around the Christmas theme. In previous years, we read a text. Families who so wished could write to their loved ones, with the association taking care of forwarding these letters, sometimes far from the country’s borders.

Myriam Longomba also draws attention to two barges which, unlike the four others, have very few volunteers on board: it is the guests themselves who take part in the organization of the evening! She remembers a year when, among them, there were people with a chaotic migratory journey. “They had made themselves very beautiful and, all evening, they had been attentive to others, despite their complicated stories. » This is how the spirit of Secours Catholique’s first New Year’s Eve after the war lives on, when its founder, Father Jean Rodhain, went with his teams under the bridges of the capital to bring a meal to the homeless. Always with the same idea in mind: never leave anyone alone at night and on Christmas Day.
(Guilhem Dargnies)

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Christmas and New Year’s Eve: 5 initiatives so that no one is left alone

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