Where were you born and raised?
My name is Anne-Marie Etienne, the youngest of five children – three brothers and a sister – born on May 25, 1939 in Plumelec, on the southern edge of the Breton Peninsula in northwestern France. My parents owned a farm in the municipality of Plumelech.
Though not rich, we were very happy. As a family, we went to church, and at night we did our prayers kneeling at the foot of our bed. My father was very good, always ready to help neighbors. I thank God to have grown up in a good family environment. What has been your religious journey?
At the age of fourteen I entered active life, first helping my sister who had two young children and had a small trade. Then I assisted a local family, but I liked that job a lot less!
The school in my village was run by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was there that, at twelve years of age, I felt the Lord's call, while I was working at the clinic in Malestroit. There I met the Augustinian Sisters and I received the call to religious life, and especially serving the poor and elderly.
I made my first vows in 1965 at the Augustinian monastery of St. Martin des Champs near Morlaix, a busy scenic Breton seaside town in northwestern France. At the retirement home of St. Francis, adjacent to the monastery, I held the service function of caring for the residents of the home. I was also Prioress of the community for twenty years and have remained faithful to my vocation of caring for others.
La Salette in Morlaix
Over the years I have been described as "sister of La Salette" from my deep devotion to Our Lady of La Salette and I am also a Lay La Salette. This was prompted by visiting the chapel, located on the property of the sisters and overlooking the monastery, that was dedicated to Our Lady of La Salette back in June 21, 1860 by Bishop Sergent, Bishop of Quimper and Leon.
And now I have just arrived at my fiftieth anniversary of Religious Consecration under the maternal gaze of the Virgin of La Salette. As I continue to serve the poor and the elderly, I find it very beautiful to see, on the same site, memorials to the Message of the Beautiful Lady to the two shepherd children. I find equal beauty to seeing our charism of mercy expressed daily in such a meaningful way, as Mary of La Salette is prayed to as Reconciler of sinners.
Since the beginning of my religious life here, I have always admired the sisters who every day make the climb to our sanctuary to pray the rosary, cleaning, put flowers. For me, I can not conceive my life as an Augustinian in Morlaix without a continued strong connection to the merciful Virgin of La Salette, guardian of our community and of all those in our retirement home of St. Francis.