“This video has been an incredible game changer for us,” Lepage said. “We received thousands of donations overnight and people from across France asked us to restore calvaries in their respective regions.”
“We understood that there was something to be done, and we decided to embark on a national adventure, with new offices in different parts of the country,” he explained.
Lepage noted that the association had invested a lot of money to remain autonomous and be able to produce its own crosses.
Within six months, SOS Calvaires established 25 branch offices in France. To date, it has around 4,000 donors. It also has 800 members — up from 15 in February.
The organization is now restoring 10 calvaries a month across France.
The association occasionally provides calvaries to local pastors for their communities. It also sells some to private citizens who wish to plant a cross on their property.
“It is a way of letting people know that they are entering a Christian land, and we encourage these initiatives,” Lepage commented.
He said that the association’s growing visibility had great evangelizing power, especially among young people. He recounted that after Baptiste Marchais posted his video, priests received calls from young people wanting to go back to church.
The initiative not only offers young people the chance to meet together. The ceremonies at the laying of calvaries are also always accompanied by prayer, songs, and convivial meals.
(Story continues below)
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“Nowadays, countless young people feel lost, and they seek action,” Lepage said. “Restoring and setting calvaries in place falls within their competence and gives them a sense of belonging. They can identify with a cause, and it gives them a brighter image of the Catholic world.”
“Many of them see France declining, collapsing, and they want to preserve the Christian roots of their country, whether they are practicing Catholics or not.”
The present situation in France, marked by waves of vandalism and desecration of Catholic monuments, has not dampened the enthusiasm of the association’s young volunteers.
“Some time ago, one of our calvaries was tagged [with graffiti], and we responded by publicly warning vandals that for each calvary destroyed, we would build two calvaries, and it never happened again,” Lepage said.
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