God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord’ (2 Tim 1:7-8).

St. Paul’s words to Timothy also apply to our time. It takes courage to profess Christ in a heathen or secularised environment. The ‘Chemin Neuf’ community is doing just that. It was founded as a Catholic community in 1984 in Lyon, France.

Today its priestly and religious wing is formally recognised by the Vatican as a clerical religious institute of pontifical right. The association is present in many Eastern European countries and works for unity among Christians, unity within families and the unity of each individual soul with God. In 1998 the former Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Vlk gave the community the former Jesuit monastery in Tuchomerice (not far from the Czech capital). Here they welcome married couples to a ‘Cana week’ where, through prayer and dialogue, they can rediscover the grace of the sacrament of marriage.

Likewise, there are retreat days for young people and young adults, prayer groups – and a Bible school is run on seven weekends each year, bringing new life to the old monastery. The demand for these is growing.

After decades of godless communism and soulless consumerism, many people are seeking for meaning and purpose in their lives. They come into contact with the missionaries during their street missions in Prague and other cities, and afterwards many visit the monastery. They are drawn by the commitment of the young people to Christ. It is a commitment that has consequences, and not just for the people involved but also for the monastery itself. The community has already invested considerably in the building: the roof timbers have been renewed, the facade renovated, the gas heating repaired, windows replaced, the chapel refurbished and the drainage system overhauled.

Now the 45-year-old electrical wiring, and the plumbing and heating system have to be completely replaced – an expensive undertaking. And the income from the courses is only sufficient to cover the basic day-to-day running costs. We have promised help to those professing Christ with such power and love. ACN has promised help to those professing Christ with such power and love.

This article can be found in Mirror 0417.