20 years already!
- To celebrate my 20 years of episcopate, the Partenia 2000
Association took the initiative to organize a gathering of friends.
I had some reservation about this idea but I let it go. I want
to thank all those who put all their heart and a lot of energy
in this organization.
The weather was beautiful. People were arriving at the wonderful
garden of Luxembourg, carrying their lunch bag and greeting each
- A large number of Belgian friends were there, but also
some from Switzerland, Germany and even from Texas without forgetting
the illegal African immigrants. Soon after, the bus from Evreux
arrived filled with pilgrims, happy to be there. We did not need
a multiplication of loafs of bread to start the lunch!
I had no idea who would be at this meeting. So I was surprised
and full of joy to see people that I had known for many years.
I was going from one group to another, greeting each one.
What a blessing to see so much fidelity to the Gospel, so many
human and spiritual experiences, so many actions in favor of
- I collected their words as so many flowers for Partenia's
future records: " It is something new for the Church that
people gather around the pastor they have chosen" "What
happened on the January 1995 dismissal is not a minor event of
the past but an event still alive', "I still suffer from
being excluded from the Church, from being denied, not having
a mission any more, but I still resist even if my struggle is
hopeless" "I will always remember this common passion
that we shared of not serving the people of the diocese without
first putting the poor at the center of our thoughts and of our
These meetings filled me with happiness.
- We left the Luxembourg garden to go quietly to the Spiritan
When I am in Paris, I participate every day to the prayer
of the community and I concelebrate the mass with them.
The Spiritans heartily welcomed us. The Bishop of Evreux celebrated
I wanted to recall that I put my episcopate in 1982 under the
protection of F. Jacques Laval who had just been beatified by
Jean-Paul II. The statue of Jacques Laval is precisely in this
Chapel. I was attracted by his evangelical actions. Priest in
Evreux, he went to the island of Mauritius to take care of those
excluded from the society: the Blacks.
I still admire the courageous actions he accomplished at that
moment of the 19th century.
Right from the beginning he started to learn the language of
the Blacks, the Creole.
His home was a wooden hut with only two rooms; this made the
Blacks feel at ease with him and at home.
He organized a special mass for them, to avoid them to have to
sit fenced off at the back when the Whites were there.
He was visiting the jail twice a day where hundreds of prisoners
were crowded together, some would be liberated only by death.
He created a Mutual Insurance for the Blacks, wanting them to
take charge of themselves and to exert a true solidarity between
He understood that the Blacks have to be evangelized by the Blacks
and that the Church at Mauritius cannot be installed without
Jacques Laval had to pay a high price for his actions. Showing
one's solidarity with the Blacks was a dangerous affront to the
Whites. They detested him. They were opposed to him, trying to
make him leave the island and even to kill him.
His evangelical actions are still stimulating. It gives some
hope for the future.
We all left with the joy of Christ in each of us.