The superior general, Ronald D. WITHERUP, conducted a canonical visit to Le Foyer de la Solitude at Issy-les-Moulineaux from January 26-28, 2011, and was warmly welcomed by the residents at this retirement home, which is owned and operated by the French Province of Sulpicians.
There are currently fourteen residents, among whom are thirteen Sulpicians and one priest of the Sacred Heart. The local superior is Father Charles BONNET, p.s.s., who has also served in the past both as provincial and treasurer of the French Province. He welcomed Father Witherup and set up the schedule for the three-day encounter, which included a special celebration for the upcoming 90th birthday of a confrere who does not reside at La Solitude, Father François DU PLESSIS, p.s.s.
In addition to Father Bonnet, the residents include Fathers C. BEAUVALET, F. BOUYER, M. CAILLAT, R. COSTE, G. COUTURIER, J. DUBRAY, M. DUPUY, H. FAURE, R. D’IZARNY, B. LORIN, I. NOYE, and J. TREFFORT. The former Bishop of Nantes, Georges SOUBRIER, p.s.s., is also a wonderful resident in the house, although he is much in demand as a retreat director throughout France.
The location of the house affords a great opportunity for these retired priests who continue rather independent lives of priestly service. It is near the center of Issy-les-Moulineaux, close to Paris Metro, and very close to Le Grand Séminaire, where many of the residents once served as faculty members. The house also has a beautiful, well-tended garden, and a stellar view of the Eiffel Tour, which at night twinkles in the darkness for a few minutes every hour!
At the end of his visit, Father Witherup held a community meeting at which he delivered orally some initial impressions of the state of the community. He commended the staff of La Solitude for their great care of the confreres, particularly noting the ministry of Father Bonnet, and the matron of the house, Mme Annik THIEBAUT LEON, who is completing a ten-year term at the end of March, as well as Mme FATIMA and Mme KADIATOU, who work directly with the residents, tending to practical needs.
Father Witherup also emphasized the tranquil, prayerful, and amicable nature of the community, as well as the obvious open and caring attitude the confreres have for one another. He found the community’s spiritual life to be exemplary, and he also admired the ongoing commitment of so many residents to continue their ministry, as much as health permits. Some still assist with masses or confessions in parishes in Paris, while others are noted for their ongoing research and writing.
In short, Le Foyer de la Solitude is an exemplary active Sulpician retirement home. Visitors are always welcome !