The sanctuary of Sainte-Baume (Var) opens its doors for a new meeting of its Summer University, from Thursday 17 to Saturday 19 August. Conferences, round tables, readings and debates are offered to the participants of this edition on the theme: “End of a world, End of the world? “.
The Sainte-Baume Summer University was created in 2011 in partnership with the Sociopolitical Observatory of the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon. This year, the reception, the programming and the choice of the guests were carried out exclusively by the Dominican friars.
After two blank years caused by the health crisis, the recovery last year had been difficult. The 2022 edition only had around thirty participants, compared to nearly 110 in the years preceding the Covid. The recovery seems to be well underway this year with nearly sixty participants announced according to the organizers.
A Dominican university
“The participants are attracted by the natural setting of the sanctuary in the Massif de la Sainte-Baume, and by the spiritual setting of the Dominican convent”, explains Brother Joseph-Thomas Pini, Dominican from the convent of Toulouse, organizer of the University and regent of studies in the Dominican province of Toulouse.
The specificity of this Summer University is that it takes place at the rhythm of the life of the community: lauds and vespers, daily mass, “mercy vigil”, and the possibility of talking with a brother. “Reflection is always nourished by prayer,” indicated Brother Joseph-Thomas. Meals are one of the important moments because intellectually and professionally very different people mix and exchange. Several political sensibilities meet and it always goes very well. »
The speakers this year are two brothers from the province of Toulouse, Brother Renaud Silly and Brother Maxime Arcelin, Father Jean-Robert Armogathe, historian and theologian, and four lay university philosophers or historians: Martin Steffens, Gaël Brustier, Ambroise Tournyol du Clos and Damian Sanchez. Mgr Dominique Rey, bishop of the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, must conclude the session.
Train young people in contemporary issues
“Our target is young future decision-makers,” explains Brother Joseph-Thomas Pini. We are open to everyone but we want to help more specifically those who are likely to have important public responsibilities. We want to encourage them to question themselves now and lay the foundations for discernment. »
This year’s theme responds to a deep concern. “The end of time is a contemporary obsession, specifically among the youngest,” notes Gaël Brustier, political scientist and member of the Observatory of Political Radicalities of the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, who leads a conference entitled “Les temps sont-ils si obscurs ? “. “All eras have known dark periods. As a Christian, I see some reasons not to despair. We must be fervently optimistic,” he continues.
“Christians have to bring hope to this eco-anxiety”, adds Martin Steffens, philosopher and speaker at the inaugural conference “Modernity, Christianity and the end of the world”. For him, Christians are waiting for the end of the world when Christ returns. “Eco-anxiety is justified but it should not place young people in a hallucinating anxiety, continues the philosopher. The fear of the end of the world should not cut us off from God. On the contrary, it is faith that allows us to overcome this fear and go further. »