Setting up a patronage, a booming adventure

“At the recreation center, we keep the children busy. Patronage too, but, in addition, we raise them, we educate them in their whole person “, reports Myriam, a single mother of two primary school boys, welcomed to the Patronage of 12 de Dijon (Côte-d’Or), after years in a municipal center.

His enthusiasm goes hand in hand with the significant increase in these places of education through play, sport and culture, rooted in a Christian vision of the person, in a perspective of welcome and evangelization. They are aimed at children from 3 to 17 years old, outside school hours. There were 40 patronages in France at the end of the 1990s; there are now 150. But setting up a patronage cannot be improvised! Reminder of the four essential steps to embark on the adventure.

time to design

It is not because we have an idea that it is good, says Antoine Drouineau, priest at the initiative of a patronage in Seine-et-Marne, currently responsible for that of Meyzieu, north of Lyon. Beforehand, an advisability study is needed to see if the initiative corresponds to a family need. »

If the answer is yes, which one? Extracurricular care (every day after school) or extracurricular (during the holidays)? ” Being too greedy right away, it hits the wall, specifies Marie Hoppe, in charge of the patronage of Marines (Val-d’Oise), still as alive after 10 years of existence, in the Vexin. At the beginning, we tried help with homework and one-off workshops, to see what worked, even before declaring ourselves to the departmental directorate of social cohesion.. “Below seven children welcomed for 14 days of annual activity, the declaration is, in fact, not compulsory.

Drawing the outlines of the project also requires a clear definition of its content. Marie aims “an education nourished by Christian values, with discovery of the faith for those who want it”. Antoine Drouineau, meanwhile, places evangelization at the heart of the project.

Five years ago, to refine the backbone of her Dijon patronage, Manöelle Maincent went to visit the centers that function well in Lyon and Paris. These steps take time: count at least one year between the initial intuition and the actual opening.

A strong and trained team

During a formation, I saw two lay people arrive, remembers Lise-Marie Bonhomme, director of the Lapparent center in Paris (VIIe), which notably offers weekends entitled “Create or boost your patronage”. Their project did not have the agreement of their parish priest. It flipped. » The parish sometimes lends premises, encourages the commitment of volunteers and donations. Without its endorsement, patronage is fragile. In Cannes (Alpes-Maritimes), Isabelle Isnard, volunteer facilitator, notes that the vicar dedicated to the patronage of Saint-Nicolas is increasingly called upon by the priest for other tasks. The structure is faltering: “We lack a clear project that suits the priest”, she analyzes.

According to Lise-Marie, having accompanied the opening of some thirty patronages in five years, in addition to the approval of the priest, ” you need a pair made up of a consecrated person and a director”. “The presence of a consecrated person, who takes a full interest in the daily patronage, is part of the inherent pedagogy, just like the recruitment of professionals. The pair must be trained, have a certificate of aptitude for the functions of facilitator (Bafa) and a certificate of aptitude for the functions of director (BAFD). » These diplomas allow “to learn to work in a team, to work on rigor”, confirms Marie Hoppe. They also provide tools for tackling administration.

The administration, not necessarily daunting

No need for a bac + 10 to master the subject. Creating a support association, drafting its statutes, its educational and pedagogical project, declaring its premises, drawing up a budget, thinking about financing by the Caf, etc., these steps have almost no more secrets for Florian Marchand. This priest opens a patronage in Angoulême (Charente) in September 2022, with the help of the Lapparent center.

“It’s not that complicated, he wonders. We had already received local private donations, even before creating our association. I see in it a confirmation that this project is also that of God. » The Union des patronages, formed in June 2021 for mutual aid between structures, also offers step-by-step support.

A leap… in confidence

It’s a gas plant, it’s going to be expensive: questions abound. “I didn’t know the patronages at all, says Florian Marchand, initially a little hesitant about taking his BAFD. I trained myself, as well as the future director, to learn to anticipate and lay the foundations, but I also learned the lesson of Perrette and the milk jug. If you want to control everything, you can fail. I also let the Holy Spirit lead the boat. »

Similarly, Marie Hoppe remembers: “Before starting, I had the impression of being an animation drag and had no confidence in myself at all. The Lord came to get me. Do not be afraid to start if you really think you will be called. It’s all about wanting to learn. » And it works. In Allauch (Bouches-du-Rhône), after a few years of existence, it is the town hall which asks the patronage to set up an additional reception for 3-6 year olds.

The ingredients to last
– Pray for your project.
In the small town of Ollioules (Var), there was no way to find premises for patronage. The parish prayed 30 days. Shortly after, a family gave him a villa of 500 m2 with 2.5 ha of land!
– Aim for quality. No sloppy manual activities, but workshops that nourish all the faculties of the child: for each theme, think about technical, historical, creative, spiritual aspects…
– Find suitable premises. A location close to schools for extracurricular activities, with an exterior.
– Look after your volunteers. Assign them suitable missions and support them in case of difficulties; this limits their turnover.
– Be accompanied.
Faced with the unexpected, organizations offer solutions. A lack of animators? Why not open near a hostel for students who will be of service?

Freshening up an old intuition
Here we play, here we pray. The patronage motto comes from Father Jean-Joseph Allemand (1772-1836), the first to open one, in 1799, in Marseille. He is inspired by the Italian saint Philippe Néri (1515-1595), who took care of idle young people. In the 19th century, dechristianization increased the need for supervision and training for the youngest. In 1950, France had more than 8,000 patronages. In the 1960s their decline began. Jean-Marie Lustiger, Cardinal of Paris, gave them a new impetus in 1994, prompting the creation of the Federation of cultural, educational and leisure associations (Facel) for Île-de-France. With the recent reform of school timetables, requests are multiplying and the public authorities recognize in the Church a real know-how.

Create or energize its patronage, with two-day training at the Lapparent center in Paris.
The Patronage Organizer’s Guide, by Frederic Prat, Afocal.
The Patronage Union:
The Facel :

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