Martine et Michel Kremer

married, ccn, Clermont Ferrand.

8 juin 2024

Lifetime commitments

A fruitful step of faith

At Easter 1986, in the cathedral of St Jean, Lyon, a celebration brought the Community together around Mgr. A. Decourtray, Archbishop of Lyon, on the occasion of the lifelong commitments of several members. For the first time, consecrated couples and single people made a definitive commitment together. Michel and Martine Kremer are one of these couples.

FOI : How did you receive the call to get involved in the Community?

Michel :

After my conversion like Saint Paul’s at the age of 17, faith quickly became the priority of my life. After three years, I had the intuition for this commitment: « Lord, I can see that you love me, so I’m offering you a contract: I’ll take care of you and you’ll take care of me ». I learned later that it’s a covenant relationship, and I understood that it was the Holy Spirit who first proposed it to me. This covenant commitment is the most defining moment of my life.

As a volunteer in Africa, I was very close to a small community of Foucauld Sisters, so much so that I wondered whether I should join the Foucauld Brothers. Only one thing stopped me: « Lord, I have the feeling that this is not where you are calling me ». I don’t join a community because I like it, but if I feel called to it.

Back in France, I was very close to the Chemin Neuf community. The call came suddenly, in prayer, in three days. The first day I felt the call to share my possessions, the second to share my life, the third to evangelize. A little taken aback, I asked: « Where, Lord? » « In the Chemin Neuf community ». I went to see my Jesuit companion, who simply said to me: « It’s amazing, but the signs of the Spirit are there, go ahead ». The first six years passed peacefully and confirmed my call. At the same time, I married Martine, who was also involved in the community.

FOI : What does lifelong commitment mean to you?

Martine :

For me, this means making a commitment to Christ in a dependence on him and on my brothers and sisters. It means choosing to trust and to let go of control over my life. It also means rooting the community in Christ, in which I participate in my own small way; a commitment with others to form a body. Finally, to bear witness to the fact that it’s possible with a family, madness for men, but wisdom with God. The fact that we were the first couple was a difficult step of trust for me, but it was a fruitful step of faith.

Michel :

The Community had received a challenge from the Lord through the image of a tree accompanied by the words: « Do you have the roots of your branches? I was convinced that our lifelong commitment was not visible, but lay in our roots. It strengthens the community.

FOI : What was your situation in 1986?

Martine :

Michel had left his professional job two years earlier to look after a youth hostel at 10 rue Henri IV in Lyon. We had three young children. During this period, I went on the 30 Days retreat, which involved a lot of inner work. The decision to make a lifelong commitment came at the same time. Choosing this commitment was a step of abandonment and faith in the Lord. Being poor is not an obstacle to commitment. The fruit was great faith and peace. As François Cartier said when he joined us, we were living the parable of the treasure hidden in the field, for which we gave up everything.

FOI : Nine years on, both you personally and the Community have experienced a time of trial.

Martine :

A third of those who had made a lifelong commitment to us left the community. At the same time, my parents left-also. It all affected me a lot. The community went through a painful crisis. With the creation of the Chapter, I think there was a real fear that the community’s direction and decisions would only be in the hands of a few.

Michel :

For me, the ordeal was also painful, but from the beginning I knew deep down that we were called to be an apostolic body. As the Community grew and became more international, the creation of a Chapter became the necessary replacement for the sovereign assembly of those involved, so that each country could have a say in the matter. This was faithful to our initial intuition. It allowed me to remain peaceful.

Martine :

I think that if they had experienced what we have experienced that year, with the chapter groups and all their feedback that fed into the Chapter, they would have been reassured.

Michel :

The risk of a Chapter is that it becomes remote: that we no longer feel involved in what goes on there. I have the feeling that by groping our way from one Chapter to the next, we have made the transition to an investment by each of us in the Chapter, both in its preparation and in its reception (to be experienced today). This gives me great joy.

FOI : From a practical point of view, what does a lifelong commitment mean for a couple?

Michel :

We did not lack anything to bring up our children and enable them to study. The Lord has watched over us. His concern is shown in concrete ways by the brothers and the Providence.

Martine :

In practical terms, we gave up owning our own home to welcome our children. But the community houses have been wonderful holidays for our children and grandchildren. Through our lifelong commitment, our children have been able to see our deep attachment to Christ. They have welcomed this with respect, even if they don’t make the same choices as we do. ■ Interview by P. Paté

Lifetime commitments , Cathédrale St. Jean, Lyon, 1986

Cet article fait partie du numéro 078 de la revue FOI

CHEMIN NEUF CELEBRATES ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY

september-october-november 2023

Vie de l'église   Vie de la Communauté  

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