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For her 100th birthday, Sr. Irene asked for a very special gift

religieuse, anniversaire, vieillesse

Facebook / Abbaye & Fromagerie de la Trappe d'Echourgnac

Soeur Irène a fêté ses 100 ans le 3 février 2024.

Aleteia - published on 02/29/24

Sister Irene celebrated her 100th birthday in early February, surrounded by her community of Cistercian nuns. Her birthday wish? "Eternal life," she says.

With 100 years of life on Earth, 60 of them devoted to Christ, Sr. Irene seems determined to beat all records. A Cistercian nun at the Abbey of Our Lady of Good Hope in Echourgnac, Dordogne, she took her first vows in 1964, when she was 40 years old. Then she made her solemn profession four years later, in 1969. Surrounded by her entire community, she celebrated her birthday on February 3. The sisters even prepared sauerkraut for her, her favorite dish, which reminds of her native Alsace.

For several months now, Sr. Irene has been living in a nursing home run by the Daughters of the Cross. However, this has not prevented the sisters of her community from visiting her as often as possible.

When she was at the monastery, she looked after the chickens, which she particularly enjoyed feeding. “I loved my little birds. They were in good hands,” she says in a post published on her community’s blog.

Jesus crept into her life

She hasn’t forgotten the birth of her vocation. “I always knew this was it. Little by little, he crept into my life,” she explains, referring to Jesus. And when she talks about it, Sr. Irene seems as sure of her vocation as ever. “There is no explanation. He’s the Son of God, he’s Jesus. He’ll give me explanations when I get up there.”

Indeed, as Pope Francis said in 2014, consecrated life is “an encounter with Christ: it is he who comes to us, led by Mary and Joseph, and we go towards him guided by the Holy Spirit. He is at the center. He moves everything, he draws us to the Temple, to the Church, where we can meet him, recognize him, welcome him, embrace him.”

Before settling in her monastery, Sr. Irène criss-crossed France… on her moped. “My vacations were spent out and about on my moped, touring France to see all the sights,” she recalls. It’s a time she still remembers fondly, even though she’s no longer able to indulge in this little pleasure. Her birthday wish? “Eternal life! Whenever Jesus wants!”

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