La Gran Bretèche: End of the Works

on 30 Jun, 2024
Hits: 725

La Grande Bretèche, Tours (France), 06/25/2024, Sr. Rosario Garcés del Castillo.- Work on the Grande Bretèche is nearing conclusion, with the General Chapter due to take place soon. The workers were exceptional in meeting the very tight deadlines: 9 months for the entire St Catherine's building. In the presence of Sr Véronique Margron, our Provincial Superior, a cocktail gathering was prepared to thank them.

We also had the joy of having Sr. Maria Escayola Coris, Superior General and Sr. Mariamma Paul Ollukaran, General Councilor. I am forwarding a word of thanks from Mr Xavier Pats, who is responsible for monitoring the work on behalf of the Congregation.
“It gives me great pleasure to see you all gathered here at this moment.
As you know, the number 7 evokes the perfect, completed, finished cycle.
For us, 7 years.... is the number of years it has taken to complete the Congregation's ten or so successive projects on the La Grande Breteche site. This work is now coming to an end...
Over the past 7 years, more than a dozen main projects have been carried out:
1 Preparatory work for the main worksite, in the Dining Room and the oratory of the student hostel in the St Thomas building.
2 Completion of the new archives, and their transfer to allow the opening of the neighbouring Ehpad worksite.
3 Complete renovation of the fire safety system in the Foyer Saint Thomas.
4 Renovation of the auditorium, where we are now.
5 Creation of a museum reception area in the rotunda (which, by the way, I invite you to visit).
6 Creation of the Marie Séraphie Museum.
7 Creation of studios in the old drying shed, which was completely restructured for the occasion.
8 Creation of the magnificent small chapel in the large chapel
9 Creation of a contemporary meeting room in the winter garden
10 Renovation of the roofs ....
11 And finally.... the renovation of the Sainte Catherine Building which we are inaugurating today
We knew, for at least 3 reasons, that this final phase of work on the Sainte Catherine building would not be easy:
1st reason: This was, once again, a refurbishment project, with the frequent unforeseen events that take up so much time on this type of project.
type of project. We encountered the same problem on the archives section when termites were discovered, followed by underground masonry cavities under the paving.
Some of you who were on the site at the time will remember this. This type of risk always existed.
2 nd reason: The fact that this final phase would have to be carried out on an occupied site was an additional difficulty for the contractors, with inevitable inconvenience for the occupants.
The 3rd and final reason: was the completion date.

When the application for planning permission was submitted in July 2022, only one date was known: completion of the works by the end of June 2024. The planning application took considerably longer to process than we had estimated, since it was issued in June 2023, almost a year.... after the original application was submitted. Work on the final phase, which is now nearing completion, began last September, after the last summer holidays of 2023, Report No. 1 is dated 5/09... less than 10 months ago... 2 Only 10 months to complete.... it was a real challenge. Today, here we are, the site is finished. The contract has been fulfilled thanks to each and every one of you.    

Once again, there are several reasons for this success: I can thind of four:

1 First of all, the upstream studies were well done, and well managed, coordinated and completed, thanks to the work of the architect, the pilot and the project manager, the design office and their advisers, the decorator and the control office.

2 nd reason: The project was carried out in satisfactory conditions, thanks to the professionalism of all those involved and the quality of their staff.
3rd reason: The fortunate fact that no major problems were discovered that could have jeopardized the deadlines, as we had previously experienced.

But above all:
4th reason: The solidarity, good understanding and team spirit of all those involved, at all levels, throughout the project.
How can a project succeed without such a context of healthy collective emulation?
I've even heard several of you express regret that this project won't last longer for this very reason...
I'm sorry we can't satisfy them...
Since June is traditionally, in schools at least, the month in which prizes are awarded, I'm sure that if that were to be the case here, at this very moment, a good number of prizes would have to be awarded and I would be at a loss as to how to award them.
I will therefore leave it up to each person to decide which of these prizes he or she could, or could not, claim.


- Prize for the best compliance with planning deadlines
- Award for technical expertise and quality
- Initiative
- Award for versatility
- Responsiveness
- Punctuality at site meetings
- Administrative rigor

The list could certainly be completed...

- A special prize should also be awarded to the Congregation and its employees for their kind understanding of the inconveniences caused, in particular by the inevitable noise from tools and dust.
- Lastly, an honorable mention should go to Lucie, Project Manager and Pilot, who has been present and even omnipresent throughout the successive phases of design and construction, from the very beginning of these past 7 years, give or take a few months.

With her in-depth knowledge of the project, she has never stopped at any time:

- organizing / planning / checking
- re-contacting, sometimes re-contacting, (very exceptionally, of course) some or others, as often as necessary,
- looking for solutions, so that we can meet the unavoidable deadline of the end of June 2024.

I would like to thank her warmly and especially for this.
We will long cherish the memory of this atypical and emblematic project for you, the people of Touraine.
The Congregation was right to place its trust in each and every one of you, whether you are present here or absent today, having worked on the site over the last few months, or still in your own jobs, from the offices and workshops of the companies, without ever having been to the site.
Together, we have had a wonderful adventure.
You can be proud of it.
From the bottom of my heart, as Sr Véronique and the Congregation said, thank you to each and every one of you.
I think we can all clap each other...


View before and after PDF photos: