Inspiring News : Forum 104 in Paris

Forum 104, listening to the current quests for meaning

After being closed for four months during the confinement, the cultural and spiritual centre (Forum 104) in the rue de Vaugirard in Paris reopened at the end of June. A renewed programme and more legible proposals, particularly around the world of work, have been developed over the last few weeks.

Article by Claire Lesegretain, 

A strange beginning for Frédéric Rochet. Two months after his arrival, on 8 January, as director of Forum 104, in Paris, he was forced, because of its confinement, to close this cultural and spiritual centre on the rue de Vaugirard. It did not reopen until June 22nd.

During these four months, however, various proposals continued to be made on the Web, giving the Forum 104 team the opportunity to refine the difference between sessions in the presence of participants and digital sessions. "It's amazing how much digital technology makes it possible to live," smiled this warm-hearted man, a member of the Christian Life Community (CLC, of Ignatian spirituality), who from 2005 to 2016 directed the Hautmont Spiritual Centre, near Lille, before overseeing the destiny of the Social Weeks of France - in conjunction with Dominique Quinio, its president since 2016. During these four months, the Forum 104 team launched "a big work on the form", in order to "renew the way of presenting" the multiple proposals. The programme for the year 2020-2021 contains new sections and a new graphic design (see below).

"Frédéric's mandate is to give more visibility and legibility to this alternative venue, which has sometimes given the impression of a mess," smiles Father André Antoni, an Assumptionist religious and member of the Bayard group's board of directors. It is in fact the Augustinians of the Assumption (owner of Bayard, publisher of La Croix) who have taken over responsibility for accompanying Forum 104 in 2014. And it is an Assumptionist, Father Dominique Lang, who pastorally animates the Notre-Dame-des-Anges chapel next to the "104".

We haven't taken anything out of our catalogue, but we have tried to enrich it to meet current demands," adds Tanguy Châtel, sociologist of religions and secularism and president of the 104. "The 104 Forum has always had the ambition to be a little ahead of societal evolutions and the quest for meaning," he continues, recalling that after the interest of the 1970s for oriental practices and that of the 1990s for personal development and the quest for identity, today we see questions "around ecology and management", to help in particular to "more coherence between private and professional life".

With a view to making specific proposals on these emerging subjects, Forum 104 has just set up partnerships with Christian Entrepreneurs and Leaders, Enlightened Leaders, Entrepreneurs of the Future, the Fondacio community and the HEC Spiritualities Club. "There is a demand at the moment," continues Tanguy Châtel, "for business leaders and managers to become social actors, capable of nourishing their deepest motivations from philosophical, spiritual and religious sources. It is in the DNA of Forum 104 to sniff out new trends and to be the place where they are worked on. »

Already two meetings proposed in recent months to reflect on how to live one's spirituality in the company have been a great success, "with 250 people the first time and a little over 100 the second," says Frédéric Rochet. "People were enthusiastic about our pedagogical approach, bringing together testimonials and exchanges based on a review grid".

Such proposals remain in line with the major ecumenical and inter-religious orientations of the Assumption congregation which, because of its presence in the Far East (Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines) for some thirty years, is attentive, according to Father Antoni, to "oriental wisdom and interspiritual dialogue". Father Antoni even dreams that the 104 may one day become "a place to reach out to Bayard's different audiences". Why not imagine proposals for spiritual awakening for the young readers of Pomme d'Api or sessions to help the older readers of Panorama to pass into retirement. "Such a non-institutional place, Father Antoni again evokes, has a role to play in helping those who frequent it to find their spiritual identity, whether Christian or not. »