The book about our confreres in Tizi-Ouzou has just been published. Even if we still do not know when the Beatification will be celebrated, let us not wait to rejoice and invoke these blessed ones.
In his Apostolic Exhortation on Holiness, Pope Francis writes: “Persecution is not a reality of the past, because today, too, we suffer it, whether in a bloody way, like so many contemporary martyrs, or in a more subtle way, through calumnies and lies… To accept every day the way of the Gospel even if it creates problems for us, that is holiness! ” nr. 94
Pope Francis was very sensitive to the martyrdom of the 19 brothers and sisters of Algeria who offered their lives. Was it relentlessness to want to stay until the end? The question may arise and should not be avoided. Well, then, why? How? Who can testify to that? Any reader can forge an answer for himself when reading this book.
Our four confreres from Tizi-Ouzou were killed in the presence of people who loved them. They welcomed them, they worked with them, they comforted them. They led a life of community, prayer, sharing and solidarity.
This book sheds light on several aspects: it is a speech that is not afraid to tell the truth. It is a testimony that shows how far fidelity can lead, a total commitment in a Muslim environment. It is a missionary journey for the 21st century. And what is more, it can be read by a wide Catholic and Muslim audience. “It was a long loyalty…” Other aspects emerge. This is the first time that confreres are beatified in our Missionary Society but they are not isolated. On the one hand, they are in line with the 61 White Fathers and Sisters who have dedicated their lives to Africa by offering it up to the total gift. On the other hand, they are in communion with a whole people, not only with the 19 religious men and women, but with all those, Muslims and non-Muslims, who have experienced the same violence, the same suffering, the same tears.
These beatifications can give rise to three others for us. In recent times, with our confrere Terry Madden from Great Britain, we have found ourselves in the region of Father Lourdel’s native country. Young Ugandans dream of seeing one of the founders of their church beatified. After the disappearance of all these victims in Algeria, many ask themselves the question of the beatification of Cardinal Duval. And then very recently we received an ‘inquiry’ which raises the question of the beatification of Cardinal Lavigerie and asks what we think about it.
I’m not asking you what you think, but I would like to ask you, simply, if you are happy when you think of them, when you remember them? That is enough for me, because that is the meaning of beatification: knowing how to make people happy.
Thank you Father Armand Duval for writing this book. Your niece told us that you had already re-read the re-edition in Saint Malo. We hope that the young confreres will take the time to read it and make it their reference book in formation houses.
Bernard Lefebvre, M.Afr.
(written in the Mini-lien nr 475)
C’était une longue fidélité
Auteur : Père Armand Duval, M.Afr
Editions Médiaspaul juin 2018 16 euros
In this book, Father Armand Duval introduces us into the lives of the four White Fathers missionaries who, in solidarity with the Algerian people, gave their lives in 1994 and were recognized as blessed by Pope Francis along with 15 other religious men and women of the Church of Algeria.
Why remain faithful to a people that is not his when peril is omnipresent and hope to act on man so tenuous? Because “it was a long loyalty”.
Through this homage, the author gives us “a teaching on mission”. The Gospel flame that animates these witnesses of God’s love beckons us where we live, and as Saint Augustine says, “every man as man has the right to be loved”.
Armand Duval, White Father – Missionary of Africa, was a missionary in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as in Mexico. He has long lived in North Africa, Jerusalem, Spain, and collaborated with “Peuples du monde” and “Africana”.