Place of Worship in the Alps: Reviving Mountain Churches and Communities

Place of Worship in the Alps: Reviving Mountain Churches and Communities

The Trièves region nestled in the French Alps, located to the south of Grenoble, holds a treasure trove of spiritual, natural, and architectural wonders.

However, maintaining parishes in this vast and secularized expanse proves to be a challenging task for the few missionary priests who reside here.

Prayer Event to Breathe Life into Mountain Churches

Father Guy-Alexandre Kouya, originally from Côte d’Ivoire, has taken up the mantle of reviving these mountain churches and their communities.

In an initiative spanning from August 1 to August 15, coinciding with the solemnity of the Assumption, he has organized a prayer event.

This event is aimed at rekindling the spirit within these churches and fostering a sense of unity among their congregations.

The Hidden Bell Towers

The villages of Cordéac, Cornillons, Sinard, Treffort, Mens, and Roissard, strung along the road between Grenoble and Gap, reveal picturesque bell towers dotting the Trièves mountainsides.

Despite the scenic beauty of these places, the scarcity of workers has taken a toll.

Due to a lack of priests and faithful attendees, some of these churches rarely open their doors.

Shepherding 27 Churches in a Vast Parish

Father Guy-Alexandre Kouya has been entrusted with overseeing the 27 small churches within the expansive Notre-Dame d’Esparron Parish for the past four years.

This parish stretches across more than 600 square kilometers and spans altitudes ranging from 310 to 1,740 meters above sea level.

Bringing Church to the Mountain Pastures

To reach out to those residing in remote areas, Father Kouya and his parish team have embarked on a unique endeavor amidst the mountain pastures.

Over the past two weeks, he has led meditative rosary sessions and Mass celebrations at the altars of forgotten mountain churches.

This initiative will culminate on the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Infusing Life into Forgotten Sanctuaries

The two-week prayer event has breathed new life into these sanctuaries, removing cobwebs from rustic benches and inviting daylight through wooden doors.

It has also allowed for the rediscovery of statues of various saints tucked away in side chapels.

A Vision of Visibility

Father Kouya’s aspiration is to bring greater “visibility” to the Church in the Alpine mountains, where a mere 2% of the population attends Sunday Mass out of the 10,000 residents.

Embracing Pope Francis’ call to reach out to the peripheries, he and his team are determined to keep these previously closed churches alive.

A Journey Through the Parish

Father Kouya’s ambition extends to touring the entire parish, a task that covers an extensive area.

This involves inaugurating visits to various chapels and encountering the people.

He envisions combining this initiative with village-wide visits, fostering fellowship and exchange among all residents.

The Power of Prayer and Togetherness

Each evening, parishioners involved in the initiative prepare meditations based on words attributed to the Virgin Mary at Church-recognized apparition sites across the globe.

Father Kouya emphasizes the importance of prayer as the primary weapon available to Christians in a world marked by crises and wars.

The initiative has already garnered the interest of locals, both Christian and non-Christian, who appreciate the renewed activity in these churches and the sense of presence it brings.

Fostering Unity Through Rediscovery

As the initiative progresses, local residents are drawn to the churches, creating a sense of unity and rediscovery.

This pilgrimage through the chapels and churches unknown to many has forged a bond among participants and within the larger parish.

Father Kouya remains optimistic about the future, believing that love, not material progress, is what holds the world together.

He is confident that more people will join the cause, as the initiative continues to radiate its positive influence.

TDPel Media

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