Pilgrimage to Bayonne

Pilgrimage to Bayonne

Sunday, 20th October, 8 am, the older confreres of the EHPAD of Billère should have barely started their day and yet, while it was still dark, a good twenty of them rushed into a bus that would take them to the very origins of our foundation, the birthplace of Charles Martial Allemand Lavigerie. It was there that he was born, there that he grew up, there that he was baptized, then educated, before leaving, at the age of 17, for Paris to complete the minor and major seminary.

Patrick Bataille, the Delegate Provincial of France, and his assistant, Bernard Lefebvre, had come from Paris especially to celebrate this penultimate French event of the Jubilee Year. The closing Mass will be held later this year around the community of Toulouse.

They are the most valid of our EHPAD confreres who had registered. Yet the day would not have been possible without the support of about twenty HBB volunteers (Basque-Béarnaise Hospitality) who helped them all day long to get on and off the bus and to get around during the various stops of the pilgrimage.

First stop, Bayonne Cathedral. The local bishop, Father-Bishop Marc Aillet, was waiting for us to celebrate World Mission Day 2019. During his homily, the Father-Bishop first greeted the evangelization effort of the Missionaries of Africa, men and women who dedicated their lives to evangelizing what he calls the Continent of Hope, because it is in Africa that the youth of the world are found and that the Church knows the greatest expansion. He then reminded us that every baptized person must take ownership of Christ’s mandate and radiate faith wherever he/she is. And with the help of the ubiquitous social media, Mission Ad Gentes is here, at our doorstep! His homily was punctuated by a key sentence from today’s Gospel: “When the son of man comes, will he find faith in hearts? »

The Mass was followed by an aperitif in the beautiful cloister of the cathedral and a meal at the diocesan centre. After lunch, visit to the statue of Lavigerie, erected in 1909 on the “Place du Réduit”, to honour this local child who had become extremely popular.

On the other side of the bridge over the Ardour, stop at the Church of the Holy Spirit where the cardinal was baptized on the 5th of November 1825, only 5 days after his birth. The priest in charge of the church was waiting for us to tell us the story of this small Gothic-style church, which was elevated to the rank of a collegiate church by Louis XI at the end of the 15th century. After praying Vespers, we gathered around the baptistery.

We got back in the bus that took us to the Saint-Etienne cemetery where we saw the family vault of the Lavigerie family, and especially the tomb of the Cardinal’s parents, restored in 1955.

The last resort, the neighbourhood of the “Domaine de Huire”, of which a piece of the Cardinal’s birthplace still exists. It is impressive to step on the ground that the Cardinal stepped on in his tender years. It was then time to get back on the road to Billère where we arrived shortly after 7pm. It was a very beautiful day blessed by God who, in fact, spoiled us with intermittent rains.

Philippe Docq, M.Afr.

You will find below an interactive map with the different places we visited. Then some pictures of the day. And after the photos, an article published in 1992 in Nuntiuncula (Belgium Sector) on the history of Cardinal Lavigerie’s childhood.

(Appendix to “Nuntiuncula” nr 495, September 1992)

On the occasion of the centenary of the Cardinal’s death, many memories were evoked.

In general, we talked, as it should have been, about the size of his enterprises and his multifaceted activity. However, it may also be appropriate to mention for a moment his family and his Youth.

Indeed, it is quite difficult for us to picture our Founder at home or at school… 

This picture depicts Cardinal Lavigerie’s birthplace and underneath it reads this text: « This house is part of the “Domaine de Huire”, near Bayonne, and bears its name. »

The original of this drawing no longer exists, but this is a photo taken on the original. This drawing was probably in this house in Huire, when it was occupied and destroyed during the 1940-1945 war. This may have been the work of Mr Julien, the Cardinal’s uncle by his marriage on 29 October 1832 to Louise Latrilhe, his mother’s sister. He was a quite famous painter and engraver in the 19th century.

The main house in the middle was inhabited by Mr Latrilhe, the Cardinal’s maternal grandfather. In 1947, the White Sisters bought this house, which had undergone many modifications between 1832 and 1947… It was enlarged several times to house a community of more than 50 sisters, but the old part has not changed much on the outside. The Cardinal’s parents stayed in the house with the tower on the right.

According to tradition Charles Lavigerie was born in the room upstairs in the tower. It is not known what happened to this house between 1834 and 1923, when it was the coachman’s residence.

She no longer belongs to the White Sisters anymore.

Huire is located in the commune of St Esprit, in the St Bernard district. In the Cardinal’s time, this locality was part (since the Revolution) of the department of the Landes and the diocese of Dax. It was only attached to the diocese of Bayonne and the department of the Pyrénées Atlantiques in 1857.

The Huire estate, in one piece, included about 22 hectares of farmland and about 3 hectares of rush land for grazing. It was composed of:

    1. A main house, called “Grand Huire”, with its enclosure, two large gardens (vegetable and fruit garden), a vine in full production, an orchard and a meadow. In addition, there were three barns, a wine press, a stable, a shed and a cattle yard.
    2. A small winegrower’s house.
    3. Two tenant farms: “Petit Huire” and “Broc” each with a house, a barn, a cattle yard and a garden.
    4. Another mansion, with grove and adjoining garden (occupied by the Lavigerie family).

The Cardinal’s maternal grandfather bought the Huire Estate from Mr Bisconty, Director of the Navy’s Food Department, on the 14th of May 1813. But it seems that he did not settle in Huire with his family (six girls and a boy) until 1819 or 1820. Shortly after the purchase of the property, English troops (allied to the Spanish at war with France) had invested Bayonne. On the 14th April 1814, the French defenders of the citadel (above Huire) made an attack and fought in Huire, Broc, Chanda, the glass factory of St Bernard and the convent of St Bernard.

A corvette and nine French gunboats bombed Huire, Chanda and the convent of St Bernard.

It was in the “Maison Latrilhe” that a suspension of arms between the belligerents was signed on the 27 April 1814. A new convention lifted the blockade of Bayonne on the 5th of May 1814 (following the fall of the Empire and the abdication of Napoleon).

Pierre Latrilhe (I), born in 1719 in Vialer (30km N.E. from Pau) married Marie Brascon (or Brascoun) in Pau on the 6th May 1761. He was a “master foundryman” at the “Monnaie de Bayonne” (Bayonne Treasury) in 1767. In 1771 he was called “Sieur” Pierre Latrilhe. The Treasury played a considerable role under the Ancien Régime, as few cities had the privilege of coining coins. Bayonne had had this right for four centuries. The employees of the Treasury formed a special category among Bayonne’s craftsmen and bourgeois. Peter I died on February 20, 1800.

The first child of the Latrilhe-Brascon family, born in 1764, was also named Pierre. To distinguish him from his father and two of his brothers who bore the same first name, he is referred to as Peter II. This Latrilhe-Brascon home had ten known children: eight boys (five of whom lived only a few days or months) and two girls. One of them, Catherine Louise, now Mrs. Le Mosquet, played a major role in the Latrilhe family and played an important role during Charles Lavigerie’s childhood and youth for his literary and cultural training.

Peter II married Rose Agnes Fourtricot on September 9, 1798. Rose Agnès Fourtricot was only 19 years old at the time, while her husband was 34. Like his father, he worked at the Bayonne Treasury. At the time of his marriage, he was “Director of Works” and at the time of the birth of his first child, “Essayeur”, i. e. responsible for the “titre” of the coins. He had to check the exact weight of the precious metal of each coin minted at the Bayonne Treasury and mark it with the Latrilhe stamp. In 1828, Peter II became Director of the Treasury This important position imposed heavy costs on him: the purchase of precious metals, the installation of workshops, equipment, etc. He had to borrow. However, business was very bad in France in 1830. Pierre Latrilhe could not repay his creditors. The Domaine de Huire, where he lived, was seized and put up for sale by public tender in 1832.

To get out of this difficult situation, Peter Latrilhe II exchanged Huire for the house of Biscardi (a little higher on the same hill) belonging to Mr. Isaac Léon, a wealthy Jew from the commune of St Esprit. As the properties were of very unequal value, Mr Léon paid a balance (a sum of money that compensates for the unequal value during an exchange) of 48,000 francs. This allowed Pierre Latrilhe to repay his creditors.

Martial (or Marthial) Allemand Lavigerie, originally from Angoulême, came to live in Bayonne around 1802 as Receiver of the National Lottery. At the same time, at the beginning of the century, at least three of his brothers and sisters (from a family of thirteen children) also moved to Bayonne.

Martial had married Louise Vaslin. Divorced in 1796, he remarried on 17 June 1801 to Marie-Louise Raymond de Saint Germain, born in St Domingue in January 1776. The household moved to Bayonne probably shortly after their marriage.

Martial Allemand Lavigerie has always remained Receiver of the “National”, “Imperial” and “Royal” Lottery. His duties had certainly put him in touch with important people in the Bayonese financial community. In 1807, Martial became a member of “La Zélée”, the lodge of the Freemasons of Bayonne, and he held several services there. His young wife died in I8I3, one month after the birth of their fifth child.

Léon Philippe Allemand Lavigerie (who will be the Cardinal’s father) was Martial’s first son. He did not live in Bayonne, but in Angoulême with his mother, Louise Vaslin. However, in I8I7, he began his career in customs at the port of Bayonne. He was 22 years old. Apart from two months in Vannes in 1820, all his posts were in or near Bayonne: Ustaritz, Urdos, Aînhoa, Bordeau… He rose through the ranks: from “supernumerary” in 1817 to “Receiver” to Royal Customs Declarations in 1824. It was then that he married, on November 3, 1824, Hermine Louise Latrilhe, who lived in Huire.

The main building of the Huire Estate had only one floor and, despite a few large rooms, it was cramped now that the family was expanding. The young Lavigerie-Latrilhe household went to live in the annex house on the same property. It was here that the first three children of the household were born: Charles (1825), Pierre Félix (1828) and Louise (Mme Kienner) (1832). People say that the whole family lived together at the “Grand Huire”, even though the young Lavigerie household lived in the neighbouring building. Everyone gathered for meals at the “Grand Huire”.

When the Latrilhe family was forced to leave the Domaine de Huire in 1832, the Lavigerie family moved to the Villa Beaulieu in 1832 or 1833, which they had built in 1832, also in the St Etienne district. From there Charles and his brothers went daily to St Leon’s College near Bayonne Cathedral.

Pilgrimage to the saints of Africa: women ahead

Hello from Fribourg! Here is the link to the beautiful report by the journalist who covered the 18th Pilgrimage to the Saints of Africa on 2nd June. There are very beautiful professional pictures, almost Caravaggio! This pilgrimage is an initiative of the Missionaries of Africa of Switzerland. It has taken its cruising speed and a steering committee is gradually taking over…

Claude Maillard, M.Afr.

article & photos : Bernard Hallet 03.06.2019

Saint-Maurice on the 2nd of June 2019. Togolese Agnes Rondez during the pilgrimage to the saints of Africa | © B. Hallet

The 18th edition of the pilgrimage to the saints of Africa focused on the place of African women in the Church and society. Togo was the country honoured at this event hosted by the Abbey of Saint-Maurice (VS) on the 2nd of June 2019.

The brightness of the courtyard between the Saint-Maurice school and its refectory is almost blinding. The picnic ends and small groups gather in the rare shaded areas left by the sun at its zenith. Choirs and pilgrims are drawn to the procession that is being formed and that will lead them to the basilica for the mass of this 18th pilgrimage to the African Saints.

The songs rise, punctuated by percussion, among which the voices of the women, the majority on this day, dominate. They are in honour of this African pilgrimage to Saint-Maurice. “Exceptionally, this year we have no invited bishop or saint to honor. The theme is therefore the place of women in the Church and society,” explains Father Claude Maillard, White Father, member of the pilgrimage committee. He added that Togo is the country in the spotlight and that Bishop Jean Scarcella, Father Abbot of the Abbey, has agreed to preside at the pilgrimage mass.

The essential role of women

“The role of women is essential in Africa,” explains Father Maillard. It has its full place in the family, the community that is the pillar of social life in Africa. In a society dominated by men, he believes that things are moving, especially in politics. Slowly, of course, but surely.

Agnès Rondez, a Togolese woman who arrived in the Jura in 2001, spoke on the theme of the day, drawing inspiration from the lenten campaign – Bread for All. She supports the statement: “In Africa, women are the carriers of the world, tireless, they are the driving force,” she says. She creates, she sews, she is “up front” to feed the family and take initiatives. “In Togo, at the market, it is the woman you will find,” she smiles.

Saint-Maurice on the 2nd of June 2019. Togolese Agnes Rondez during the pilgrimage to the saints of Africa I © B. Hallet

It can also start in childhood, in the parish and in youth activities,” says Agnès Rondez. She remembers the years when she served at Mass and was part of the Valiant Hearts (the equivalent of Scouts). However, she acknowledges that the situation differs greatly from one country to another.

Yvonne, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), puts this into perspective. “Women are marginalized in the Church and in society and are unable to find their place. Yet she gives life, she must be listened to,” deploring a situation in which the woman is not heard. She denounces the rape and murder of children and women and castigates the multinationals present in the DRC who exploit them. Nevertheless, she still has a smile and hope for African women.

“The assembly reacted strongly during the conference. These were words that the mothers applauded and commented on a lot,” says the White Father. Earlier in the morning, the pilgrims also prayed for these suffering African women.

Apostles of forgiveness

“Yes, Africa is alive in the Church and will be faithful to the prophetic words that Pope Benedict XVI gave her during the Second Synod of Africa”. Father Godfroy Kouegan, a Togolese priest from the diocese of Aneho, said in his homily that “the hour of Africa” had come, a favourable hour that urged Christ’s messengers to move forward in deep water and release the nets for fishing (Le 5:4). In a gentle voice, the priest, currently at the Abbey of Saint-Maurice for a sabbatical period, noted that “Our joy, the true joy of Africa is the courage with which she takes up her cross and advances with perseverance and confidence”.

Father Godfroy Kouegan urged pilgrims to become apostles of forgiveness and reconciliation. | © B. Hallet

“I dare to put on each of your lips these words of the psalmist to bless this Abbey, its Father Abbot and his canons: “To you always, life and joy!”, thanked Father Kouegan who was surprised that the Abbey was interested in the black continent. “She[the abbey] is in search of life[…]. Life and hope that transcend all the assaults of death, the culture of death that the world today develops unconsciously or not”.

“It is to make Church, family of God, to live and make events like this live in Catholicity,” he concluded, before exhorting pilgrims to “leave here and become the apostles of forgiveness and reconciliation”.

The time of maturity

At the end of a rhythmic and colourful day, Father Claude Maillard said he was serene and delighted. He praised the commitment of the choirs, the true “backbone” of this pilgrimage. “Africans bring a lot to our communities and parishes, thanks to the anchoring they have found there.

“Africans take charge of “their” pilgrimage. It is no longer said that it is the pilgrimage of the White Fathers“. The event has reached its cruising speed, we must continue. “It’s time for maturity!” 

  • Saint-Maurice le 2 juin 2019. Messe du pèlerinage aux saints d'Afrique à la basilique de l'Abbaye. | © B. Hallet
  • Saint-Maurice le 2 juin 2019. La Togolaise Agnès Rondez lors du pèlerinage aux saints d'Afrique I © B. Hallet
  • Le Père Godfroy Kouegan a exhorté les pèlerins à devenir des apôtres du pardon et de la réconciliation. | © B. Hallet
  • Saint-Maurice le 2 juin 2019. Procession en rythme jusqu'à la basilique de l'Abbaye. | © B. Hallet
  • Saint-Maurice le 2 juin 2019. Le Père Claude Maillard, membre du comité du pèlerinage aux saints d'Afrique. | © B. Hallet
  • Saint-Maurice le 2 juin 2019. Messe du pèlerinage aux saints d'Afrique à la basilique de l'Abbaye. | © B. Hallet
  • Saint-Maurice le 2 juin 2019. La chorale érythréenne a rythmé le pèlerinage aux saints d'Afrique. | © B. Hallet
  • Saint-Maurice le 2 juin 2019. La chorale érythréenne a rythmé le pèlerinage aux saints d'Afrique. | © B. Hallet
  • Saint-Maurice le 2 juin 2019. “Cheese!“ Photo souvenir avec Mgr Jean Scarcella lors du Pèlerinage aux saints d'Afrique. | © B. Hallet
  • Saint-Maurice le 2 juin 2019. Messe du pèlerinage aux saints d'Afrique à la basilique de l'Abbaye. Le Père Godfroy Kouegan. | © B. Hallet
  • Saint-Maurice le 2 juin 2019. Chants et rythmes lors de la messe du pèlerinage aux saints d'Afrique. | © B. Hallet
  • Saint-Maurice le 2 juin 2019. Recueillement lors de la messe du pèlerinage aux Saints d'Afrique. | © B. Hallet
  • Saint-Maurice le 2 juin 2019. Sur un rythme chaloupé, les femmes du Togo apportent les offrandes à l'autel. | © B. Hallet

PEP/Fra – Sector France: News from Verlomme Community

From the Mini-Lien of the French sector, a look back at May from the sector community, at rue Verlomme.

Communauté de Verlomme :

The most important event of the month is undoubtedly the Sector Council meeting.

But the one we remember best is our annual community outing: it was on Saturday, May 11th that we first met at St Etienne du Mont Church, located on Mont Ste Geneviève. The current church dates back to the flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance periods. In particular, we admired the vault of the flamboyant choir, the finely carved stone rood loft, the carved wooden pulpit, the organ buffet and the stained-glass windows. While walking around the sanctuary, everyone was able, according to their interest, to stop in front of the hunting of Saint Genevieve, the tombs of Pascal and Racine, and many works of art: frescoes, paintings, statuary.

We then crossed the square to enter the Pantheon. This XVIIIth century building of neo-classical style, has suffered the convulsions of our history. First conceived as a church by Louis XVI in 1791, it became a republican temple to house the remains of the “great men”. It once again housed the Catholic cult under Louis XVIII and Napoleon III. It was under Louis-Philippe and the Third Republic that it resumed its function as the mausoleum of the great men of the country.

It is therefore with both religious and republican devotion that we entered this édifice, which is impressive in its size and majesty. After having visited the frescoes and sculptures on the ground floor, we were able to reflect on the ashes of the 81 personalities, men and women, who were “honoured by the grateful country”. Some of us (but we won’t say who) have dreamed of being “pantheonized”.

This did not prevent us from going for a good meal at the restaurant on Place de la Contrescarpe.

On the way we sang in chorus the words of Georges Brassens:

Poor kings, pharaohs! Poor Napoleon!
Poor missing people lying in the Pantheon!
Poor ashes of consequence!

You’ll envy a little the eternal holiday-maker,
Who, with his pedal boat, climbs the wave dreaming,
That he spends his death on vacation….

You’ll envy a little the eternal White Father,
Who says his rosary dreaming of the days of yesteryear,
Passed under the African sun.

François Richard

PEP/Fra – Sector France: News from Marseille Community

From the Mini-Lien of the France Sector, here is a look back at the month of May experienced by our confreres in Marseille.

Community of Marseille:

After the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Church of Our Lady of the Limits and the 150th anniversary of our Missionary Institutes “White Fathers” and “White Sisters”, May was a special month. Henri Blanchard joined the community of Sainte Foy-lès-Lyon on April 29th and Moses, having completed his internship (stage), went on a family vacation in Uganda on May 4th. He will continue his training in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire).

Michel was called to meet the young confreres in Tunis and left on May 3rd. And the day before his return to Marseille, he learned of the death of his paternal uncle, whom he considers to be his father. It was this uncle who took responsibility for the family after his father’s death. This uncle, a Muslim, encouraged Michel to follow his path towards the priesthood and mission. Michel therefore left directly from Tunis on May 11th for Ouagadougou, from where he joined his family in mourning. Raphaël participated in the Sector Council from May 7th to 10th. Steve, the new confrere, acclimatized to Marseille. Very handyman, he takes care of the garden and storage in the workshop and store. He strives to improve his French, especially for reading. On Sunday, May 26th, he presided at the Eucharistic celebration and preached.

Meeting place of the group "imamsprêtres" (encounter and sharing between Imams and Priests) of Marseille where Raphaël goes. Here he is with Gérard Chabanon, Michel Girard and Jean Chaptal.

The month of June will be for Raphael the month of farewells in the parish, in the associations and services of the diocese in which he was involved. At the beginning of July, he will join Fribourg, Switzerland, for a ministry at the service of the confreres. But he will also be able to commit himself once again to the service of Islamic-Christian dialogue.

Guy Vuillemin

PEP/Fra – Sector France: Nouvelles de la Communauté de Toulouse

Community of Toulouse :

Active Spring at the “Minimes”

Just like Spring, the Toulouse community is waking up with lots of activities to reactivate a flowery life. Perhaps inspired by the Resurrection of the Lord that we have just celebrated with great pomp and circumstance, the memory of the foundation of our Society has reminded us of our spirituality that has enabled us to adhere to the Mission of being All to All. Thus, on May 3, we celebrated in community the end of Emile Kimembe’s internship. He arrived safely in his family in Congo DRC on May 6.

During the aperitif to celebrate the end of Emile's internship

The next day in the evening, we shared a meal with some former White Father students from rue Vélane in Toulouse in the presence of the Provincial Delegate, Patrick Bataille, who trained two of them. There were only three. Together with their spouses and children we were about twenty people.

In their testimonies they expressed the desire for stronger unity among them and close collaboration with the Society of Missionaries of Africa. One of them, Jacques Kampetenga, is a deacon and explained his journey. They are ready to start a group of elders. In any case, their many children are our friends and potential collaborators to support us. It was a very good time.

On Sunday, May 5th, the Church of the Minimes filled up for the installation ceremony of Norbert Mwishabongo as the new parish priest of the Pastoral sector of the Minimes. The Mass was presided over by Hervé Gaignard, the Vicar General, because Bishop Le Gall was unable to attend. Patrick Bataille, our Provincial Delegate, all the collaborating priests of the parish, the Episcopal Vicar of the Deanery, and the National Chaplain of the African and Malagasy Coordination concelebrated Holy Mass.

After the mass there was an aperitif that allowed people to meet each other, then a simple and very convivial meal. The borough mayor was present for the installation and stayed all the time during the meal during which he renewed his commitment as mayor of the district for the responsibility of the Church. He also expressed his desire to collaborate with the new priest and his team.

To close our series of images as part of the organization of activities for our 150th anniversary, Bishop Michael Fitzgerald gave a lecture on “Islamic-Christian Dialogue: the contribution of the Missionaries of Africa and the Sisters of Our Lady of Africa” on May 22 in the Church of the Minims.

Mgr Fitzgerald with two animators during the conference

Presented by the animator as a man of great openness, Bishop Fitzgerald demonstrated this in welcoming the other. Through his extensive experience in the field of Islamic-Christian dialogue, he has demonstrated that dialogue is possible even in our current context in Toulouse. We thank him for agreeing to come from Liverpool to revive our commitment to ” Encounter and Dialogue “. Go well, my Lord.

Simon Gornah, M.Afr. (texte et photos)

PEP/Fra – Sector France: News from the Billère Community

From the Mini-lien of the French sector, a return to the month of May in Pau-Billère.

Community of Billère Lavigerie :

In May “do as you please” in Billère… (“Fais ce qu’il te plaît” : French proverb)

Several confreres’ outings this month: the first week, a 1800km trip in the Var with a team of Lourdes hospital workers – our photographer made for us a small souvenir image.

On the 19th, at Tournay Abbey, with the Pastoral Care Center for Migrants, and in particular with about a hundred Iraqis and their children (who speak among themselves in Aramaic), we celebrated together the 150 years of the W.F.

On the 8th, of course, we celebrated the martyrs of Algeria with a Eucharist in our little chapel corner; next year we will have our large room on the 3rd floor to celebrate…

The work is nearing completion and the director of Fed’Es, Mr. Didier Debrand, came on the 12th, to announce that he would take over the management of the house himself until all the people from the two EHPAD’s1 were installed.

1 EHPAD means “Etablissement d’Hébergement pour Personnes Agées Dépendantes” (Accommodation establishment for dependent elderly people).  In France, even though the buildings for the Old Folks communities still belong to the Missionaries of Africa, their management is entrusted to an association. Details can be obtained from the Sector house in verlomme.

PEP/Fra – Sector France: News from Bry-sur-Marne Community

From the Mini-Lien of the France sector, a look back at May in the community of Bry-sur-Marne

Bry Community:

Jean FISSET left us end of April very peaceful, while some members of his family were at his bedside. He, who was very family-minded, was able to leave in peace. The funeral was a family celebration rather than a community celebration because John’s family, including his brother and sister, filled the chapel. The liturgy of the Mass had been prepared by John himself before his death, and his nephews were keen to respect his last wishes. Bernard Lefebvre, who knew him well, came to preside at the Eucharist, and Gérard Demeerseman was able to retrace in his homily John’s attachment to the Muslim world to which he had dedicated his entire missionary life. When we returned from the cemetery, the whole family gathered one last time for a glass of friendship, which made it possible to see how much Jean was appreciated by all his family. He has now joined the great family of confreres who are waiting for the resurrection; may he rest in peace.

A few days later, the entire house was celebrating the 100th anniversary of a resident, Mrs. Berthe LE CAM. The same day it was the “Pierre angulaire” (the residence) that organized the celebration with a bouquet of 101 red rose buds. And the champagne flew freely over a huge cake. Mrs. LE CAM then confessed the secret of her longevity: a glass of red wine every day at noon and an aperitif on Sunday, a diet she intends to follow for many years to come, as she is not yet completely dependent. The following Saturday, it was his family that wanted to celebrate her again. As for us, we can now wait quietly for the celebration of our next centenary at the beginning of next year, our confrere Georges BERGANTZ, who will in turn make it because he is even more fit than Mrs Le CAM, and especially shares with her the same secret of longevity. What is certain is that celebrating centenarians gives a lot of hope and happiness to all. Long live Mrs. Le CAM.

Bishop SANTIER, Bishop of Créteil and therefore our bishop, wanted to visit us a second time this year, which touched us very much. But especially this time he wanted to exchange with us, and for a good hour he presented his diocese to us with passion. Everyone was surprised to see how cosmopolitan this diocese was: many foreigners and a large number of religions, including Judaism and Islam, and even Buddhism. Interreligious dialogue has thus become an obsession for the pastor of our diocese, which sounds familiar to many of us. All this greatly enhances the dynamism of the diocesan Christian community, which is living a true renewal. Finally, we feel a little more at home in this diocese, because we have spent our entire lives in an equally complex environment. It is up to us to remain more White Fathers than ever.

Last Saturday, an orchestra came to enliven our afternoon, the “HARMONIE TUTTI” orchestra, the fruit of Bry’s music school. It was obviously not the Scala of Milan, but it must be acknowledged that their conductor is a virtuoso, both to conduct and to play as a soloist. They now know the code to enter the house.

Finally, at the month’s end, on Ascension Thursday, Jo le NIGEN will renew his contract with the White Fathers in our community for another three years. We will talk more about it in the next Mini-Lien. The park is already looking forward to it, but less than we certainly are. Congratulations, Jo!

Clément Forestier (photos J-Y Chevalier)

PEP/Fra: Sector France: News from the Mours Community

From the Mini-link of the France sector, a return on May for the community of Mours.

Community of Mours :

Mours: a festive month of May!

We often talk about the month of May, like the month of holidays and long weekends, this year it will have been for us here, a festive month!

The 150th Anniversary Jubilee, organized by the AAPB (Association of the White Fathers’ Friends) of Paris and the Missionaries of Africa of MOURS, was celebrated on Sunday, May 19th. Yves has participated in several preparatory meetings in Paris and Mours. Jean-Louis prepared the park’s walkways to allow visitors to get some fresh air and planned for the lawns to be able to accommodate the 150 people invited for the day. Jean for weeks had been preparing an exhibition to present the Missionaries of Africa and MSOLA and renovated the glass roof space to install the panels brought by Bernard Lefebvre. Everyone on their own side had their hands in the game so that everything could go well. Everything was planned for us to live this day in the heart of nature: mass, conferences, aperitif and meal on the lawn and under the lime trees… But the weather changed our plans at the last minute and the day before we decided to review the program of installation of the festivities!

The tables, benches, sound system and barnum, graciously brought by the municipality and the Mours festival committee, had to be re-planed : the barnum was installed to allow us to have an aperitif outside, but we had to close ranks to enter the chapel for the Eucharist and sit in the glass roof.

Bishop Stanislas Lalanne of Pontoise presided over the Eucharist and gave the homily… One of the participants, not used to listening to a bishop’s homily, had these words : “a message adapted to all the participants”.

Yves Masquelier in his welcoming address pointed out that this celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Missionaries of Africa brought together here: on the one hand White Fathers and MSOLA Sisters from the Paris region, but also Mgr Claude Rault, Bishop Emeritus of the Sahara and Fr. André Ferré from Tunisia, on the other hand the Friends of the White Fathers of the Paris region, but also the diocesan family of Pontoise, priests, religious and lay people, representatives of the town hall and the committee of the Monts festivals as well as a delegation of Burkinabe Christians from the region.

After the aperitif taken outside, we sat in the glass roof to enjoy an excellent meal.

Nous avons réalisé notre projet d’accueillir à Mours pour le 150è anniversaire 150 personnes ! Même si les conversations étaient parfois rendues difficiles à cause du nombre, la joie était bien présente et les remerciements se sont multipliés à la fin du repas quand les gâteaux du 150è ont été présentés par le personnel de la cuisine, alors qu’à l’extérieur la pluie tombait.

C’est à nouveau dans la chapelle qu’ont eu lieu deux conférences : l’une concernant l’histoire et le rôle qu’occupent les AAPB dans notre secteur et leur participation à l’aide pour l’Afrique, présentée par M. Bruno Dupuy, président des AAPB de Paris ; et la seconde par François Richard sur l’histoire de Mours avant l’arrivée des PB et surtout ce qui s’est vécu à Mours de 1950 à nos jours.

Si le thème de la 3è année de préparation de ce jubilé était de « regarder l’avenir avec espérance », nous pouvons dire aujourd’hui que « la mission, c’est notre vocation », comme l’indique le titre de la lettre pastorale de notre évêque, Mgr Stanislas Lalanne, et que nous nous y engageons tous avec les forces que nous avons.

C’est à nouveau notre parc et notre verrière qui ont été choisis par les organisateurs de la Fête des Voisins ce 24 mai. Mais ce soir là, l’ambiance était tout autre, car les participants étaient majoritairement d’un autre âge !

Deux structures gonflables, un toboggan et un billard ont été installés et ont fait la joie des nombreux enfants durant toute la soirée. Et même certains d’entre nous se sont exercés à jouer au billard avec les pieds pour faire rentrer les balles dans l’une des 6 cases du billard. Un bon moment de partage « avec des voisins » que nous ne connaissions pas ou peu ! Et par chance cela a pu se passer à l’extérieur.

Au cours de ce mois de mai, plusieurs groupes de catéchèse sont venus avec leurs animateurs pour se préparer aux sacrements du baptême, de l’eucharistie ou de la confirmation. Et malgré la présence de plusieurs faisans et le passage d’un vieux sanglier, les scouts viennent toujours occuper le terrain pendant les Weekend.

Nous attendons le retour prochain de notre confrère Jean Chauvineau, parti « dans les îles » pour un mois d’apostolat et nous espérons que Michel Dubois, actuellement près de Chartres en maison de rééducation après son opération, pourra nous rejoindre dans les prochaines semaines.

Jean Chaptal (Photos J-Y Chevalier et Joseph Foucaud)

PEP/Fra : Sector France: News from Friant

Taken from the Mini-lien of the France sector, a mini-diary of the Rue Friant community. 

Communauty of Rue Friant :

At the beginning of the month, Stan Lubungo and Martin Grenier came to Paris to participate in a meeting of the Societies of Apostolic Life. It was in Morlaix, in the West of France, with the Fathers of Saint-Jacques.

The first (of May) came Father Alexandre BAZIE, the next auxiliary bishop of Koudougou (in view of the foundation of a new diocese) passed through our country on his way to Rome where he will take the “short course” for the new bishops.

Etienne Sion, a confrere from Tanzania, spent the month of May with us where he was able to make some health check-ups.

Emile Bombiri, priest of the diocese of Nouna, came to check on his heart and diabetes….

Matthias Gyato, former confrere, now a priest in his diocese in Ghana, was happy to return to Friant Street and meet one or other confrere he knew; he also wanted to check on his health.

Jean-Marie Vasseur spent a few days with us for family and pastoral meetings… Very valiant, but with a cane all the same.

Father Alexandre Dembélé, who works in the media in Bamako, came to supply his equipment through Amazon….

On Saturday, May 21, 32 children and their caregivers (from the parish of St Jacques de Montrouge) came to make their retreat in preparation for the First Communion in our large hall and garden. A lot of joy and a lot of seriousness…. And plenty of children’s games. Jacques took part in a question-and-answer session with them on Africa, the White Fathers, the vocation…

On that day, we received Bishop AKE (of Ivory Coast) who came for a last check-up following his surgeries… and Bishop Thomas KABORE, former Bishop of Kaya… He was the one who ordained five years ago the priest of Dablo who had just been murdered by terrorists.

On Monday, May 13, we received a Cor Unum group of 12 people who met in our large room; they also had lunch with us.

On May 14, André Ferré arrived from Algeria for a holiday with us. That same day, in the evening, there was also a monthly meeting of the “Relais Lumière Espérance”; on the 15th, it was Father Joseph Nikiema who came to Paris for a funeral.

On Wednesday afternoon, 15th and Thursday 16th, the meeting of the Steering Committee of the Christian Pensioners’ Movement took place in our house. There were 35 of them… They were so pleased with our hospitality that they promised to come back to us….

On Sunday, May 19, it was Bishop Augustin TRAORE of Segou, Mali, who came to visit us.

Saturday, May 25, it was the parish of Vanves with 40 children preparing for the first communion that took place in the garden and the main hall. The animation team (eight adults) has prepared everything perfectly and Jacques intervened with the children as he had done 15 days before with those from Montrouge.

And Norbert Mwishabongo, the new parish priest of Toulouse-Minimes, came to close this month of visits.

Jacques Lacour

PEP/Fra 150th St Martin’s Basilica in Tours

In the footsteps of Cardinal Lavigerie, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary. Extract from the Mini-Lien of the France Sector.


Why in Tours?

Stan Lubungo wrote in Petit Echo n° 1099: “There is reason to believe that our founder had received a proper gift from the Spirit to be an apostle and missionary in Africa. We can think of this dream, to which he often referred and in which he was transported to an unknown and foreign country where people of dark skin, speaking a foreign language came to him and how very soon afterwards he found himself appointed Archbishop of Algiers. And this decisive dream, very Pauline, took place at the tomb of Saint Martin in Tours

When we look at the work that the Cardinal has accomplished, it is indisputable that he did not achieve this without having been called to it and without having been supported by divine grace. This is why we see it fit to celebrate the 150th anniversary where the Cardinal’s history is in line with the main currents of the Church.