The Teilhard de Chardin Project achieved a major milestone this month by successfully filming in the Auvergne region of France. Here Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was born, was home schooled, and scoured the mountainous fields and forests for rocks, fossils, and plants that he meticulously labeled under the tutelage of his father. “Auvergne molded me,” he wrote in later years. “Auvergne served me both as museum of natural history and as wildlife preserve.”
The shoot was made possible by the generous response to our special funding appeal by dozens of individuals and seven Jesuit universities.* Eddie Siebert, SJ, of Loyola Productions in Los Angeles, and his cameraman Erik Lohr, did a superb job of capturing imagery in three Teilhard family estates and the city of Clermont-Ferrand. Bi-lingual Teilhard specialists Nicole Schmitz-Moormann and Tracy Higgins smoothed the way. But none of it would have been possible without a warm welcome and full cooperation by second, third, and fourth generation descendants of Teilhard’s brothers, who continue to preserve the family homes. Thanks to all!
It was a special privilege to film in Sarcenat, the house where Pierre was born, and from which he first explored the wonders of nature with his father. Murol, situated on the Allier River, was a place Teilhard visited as a boy to prospect for stones on its rocky shore and where he much later taught his nieces and nephews how to identify different rocks, from quartz and granite to the local amethyst. And Moulins was the home Teilhard visited in his difficult post-WWII years in France, as he struggled to get permission to publish The Human Phenomenon, to teach at the Collège de France, and to accept academic honors. (All were denied.) He found it a peaceful place to spend a month during the few summers he was allowed to live in France — resting, making his retreat, and writing.
We are so grateful to all our contributors who made this filming trip possible — those who sent financial contributions, and those who sent support and prayers. The community that has gathered around this project is strong!
*Jesuit schools who contributed to the Auvergne filming are Fairfield University, Fordham University, College of the Holy Cross, LeMoyne College, Loyola University Baltimore, St. Louis University, and University of San Francisco.