Business, associations, media… This new generation of Christians who are organizing

Business, associations, media… This new generation of Christians who are organizing

Forging new alliances in the service of the “common good”, assuming better visibility… Within the French Catholic world, a new generation, from the entrepreneurial world and experienced in new technologies, is seeking to shake up the codes.

IT WAS ON NOVEMBER 30, in Paris, under the metal structure of the Élysée-Montmartre, designed by Gustave Eiffel. In this performance hall, a man gets up in the middle of the evening which brings together nearly 400 guests, in tables of eight or ten people. Dressed in his white and black habit of a Cistercian monk, Olivier Quenardel is former prior of the Burgundian abbey of Cîteaux (Côte-d’Or). He takes the floor to invite the audience, especially secular, of this first Builders’ Dinner to experience three minutes of silence. “A very powerful moment,” remembers Louise Chaulin, 31, one of the organizers of this evening. Living this unique experience in the heart of Paris delighted us all. It was great. »

It is this energy, a mixture of joyful faith and a desire for commitment, which brought together in this adventure the young woman, Jérémie Berthon, Jonathan Langlois and Stanislas Billot de Lochner, all long-time friends. Urban executives in their thirties, they display their Catholic faith as self-evident in a French society where it is rather fashionable to be discreet on religious questions.

For this first – a meeting of personalities and Catholic leaders from the business world, associative, sporting and artistic circles – the objective was first of all to experience fraternal time. And to provoke improbable encounters, the table plan being drawn at random. The concomitant presence of the former environmentalist Minister of Territorial Equality and Housing Cécile Duflot, the RN deputy Franck Allisio and the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire confirms this. Between Christians of sometimes very different sensibilities, a space for discussion opened up during dinner.

But the primary objective was above all to show “the contribution of Catholics to French society”, underlines Louise Chaulin. Asked to testify, two former presidents, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, responded via video. The first mentioned the figure of Cardinal Lustiger, and the second highlighted the dignity of the sister of Father Hamel, assassinated in 2016.

A community of decision-makers

Was this the birth of a “Catho Crif dinner”? The provocative expression tempted many media who covered the event. The organizers want to distinguish themselves from this. Because the dinner of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (Crif), an annual meeting inaugurated in 1985, clearly displays a political ambition. That of raising the voice of this minority community loudly to the public authorities. The “builders” seem closer to the spirit of the Protestant Dinner, which was held a few days earlier for its third edition. Co-organized by the Cercle Charles-Gide and the Protestant Federation of France, its main ambition is to become an annual event celebrating the positive impact and ethics of Protestantism.

But then, why not take on the task of organizing a Catholic Dinner? Formula which would have the merit of clarity. By preferring to speak of builders, in other words by designating a community of “Catholic decision-makers” who act positively in society, the proposal is more open. A meeting without commitment or specific project which, at this stage, allowed participants to come out of the woods without feeling recovered.

Such an operation also testifies to a new vitality of initiatives born within lay Catholic networks which mobilize freely. Because, although the dinner did receive the support of the Conference of Bishops of France, it remained in the background.

“We will also have to involve younger generations in future editions,” confirms Louise Chaulin, recalling that the assembly, mainly from the business world, was quite male and rather old. “It is our generation of 30-50 year olds who will build the society of the future,” continues the thirty-year-old, mother of two young children who notes the absence of the theme of ecology during the evening. In our generation, there is much greater anger at the inconsistencies in our systems and the massacre they are causing to the planet. It is no longer enough to give money back to charities to do good. »

Builders or geeks?

In this sense, this new kind of dinner also reveals profound developments in the relationship with the world of many Catholics. In contrast to the discretion assumed by previous generations, here is now a desire for visibility claimed by practicing Catholics, aware of having become a lasting minority. The experience of the few is an opportunity to get back to basics. The journey of “builder” Jonathan Langlois bears witness to this. After a career in the business world, the man launched a YouTube channel: Les Lueurs. She makes men and women, known or not, talk about their inner life.

Like the dynamics of small evangelical Protestant communities in France, the experience of the minority can mobilize energies. For Jérémie Berthon, it is not surprising that a new, more enterprising generation is currently rising. “There is a real thirst to get involved, both in one’s parish and in the associative or business world,” confirms this executive from a large company in the insurance world. In the midst of wealthy and practicing Catholic families, it is not uncommon to see young people, graduates of business schools, prefer to put their know-how at the service of the Church or solidarity projects. A real opportunity for Christian communities, monasteries and spiritual centers that are sometimes losing momentum, which can thus benefit from their talent as communicators, salespeople and actors in a digital world that is moving forward at full speed. Some even speak of “church tech” to designate this new disruptive way of working in Catholic circles.

Six months before the Builders’ Dinner, the fifth evening took place Pitch my Church (in English, “Move my Church”). By bringing together 300 people at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris, the organizers’ ambition was to highlight influencers and those responsible for digital projects for the Catholic world. Here, an application that promotes religious heritage. There, a kit to facilitate catechesis for children. Or even a dating site for young Christians. Or the site which, facilitating hotel reservations for religious communities, benefited from the publicity given to the Corsican monastery of Corbora. This is where the reality TV show Welcome to the Monastery broadcast on C8 was recorded. No wonder the convent now features very prominently on the site’s home page.

The demand for the common good

This development improves the media coverage of Catholics in society. Questions remain.

The founders of La Nuit du bien commun, born in 2017, in search of more effective philanthropy, combine “narrative emotion and conviviality” to facilitate, in an evening with very controlled communication, fundraising for projects in difficulty of financing. Examples: the development of a house for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, shows for disadvantaged groups, etc. The House of Common Good, open in 2022, in the heart of the 7th arrondissement of Paris, aims to become a “powerful accelerator to transform our society and respond to the economic, social and environmental challenges it faces,” as it indicates on its website. His public ? Entrepreneurs, some of whom work in the social economy, and patrons. Other houses of this type are already being planned elsewhere. A mixture of “American-style” genres where charity can, if we are not careful, turn into a spectacle, and the fraternal meeting into an opportunity to fill address books.

The multiplication of these initiatives marks a form of cultural revolution within the French Catholic world. Although few participants clearly admit, these “dinners”, “nights”, “houses” and other evenings bringing together executives and managers contribute to developing networks of action and influence. At the risk of an intercourse reserved for a new Catholic elite? It would be a little hasty to forget that these young enterprising generations, from working-class or privileged backgrounds, participate in solidarity projects far removed from economic profitability and digital acceleration. The sense of the common good is experienced here by men and women: presence in working-class neighborhoods, life shared with precarious people, creation of supportive and ecological group housing, access to work for disabled people. Far from the spotlight.

Similar Posts