Log-book: November 2004

  At the Labour Exchange Lisbon
  Time to harvest  Sunday Mass 




The Bible

Special Edition

At the Labour Exchange

Romain went to visit his family at Cotonou in Benin. That is where he met his death with two of his brothers in a terrible car accident. It was a shock for me as well as all those who knew him and were militant with him.

votre place I last met him in August. A gathering of people without legal documents was held on the Republic Square. The march was being organized to go to St. Bernard 's church. I was in the crowd when Romain finally found me. He took me by the arm: " You should not be here, your place is out front with the dignitaries ". Big and strong, it was not easy to resist him. He took me to the first row of the demonstration: " There, this is the way it should be " he told me. 

At the Labour Exchange, people without legal papers, militants, union members and politically committed people were crammed together in the large hall. There was an atmosphere of solemnity and silence. I was measuring the importance that Romain had taken in their lives. His death underlined his life as a militant and gave sense to all his fights. The people found him very stimulating.
The chairman stressed that Romain was a Christian and asked me if I would accept to celebrate a mass in his honour at Saint Bernard Church. There would be an open invitation to attend.
He also proposed that a delegation be sent to Benin at some time in the future to meet with Romain's family, to give them a sum of money collected by solidarity, to go and meditate at his grave and to tell them of the combats he fought in France. He asked me to be part of the delegation.






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How beautiful this city is, during the daytime as well as in the evening! It was a real delight for me to visit this city again and to spend two days there.

ecique de Partenia sur Internet 
The men and women who translate every month the Partenia site have for a long time expressed their desire to have a meeting in order to know each other better. Lisbon was chosen for the reunion. Our friends from Quebec responded quickly and gladly accepted to participate to the meeting. Our friends of Partenia from Portugal gave us a warm welcome. Their presence was a beautiful gift.
For almost nine years now, the website is accessible in seven languages and updated regularly. It is a great feat that needs to be commended. Furthermore it is a work coming from the heart. From Zurich, Katharina Haller heads this network of men and women from different countries.

liens d'amitié 
In our group, we felt a great sense of togetherness. We finally took the time to enjoy life. Ties of friendship have been created.

It was important to review our work and look into the future. But more important of all, it was to feel a sense of friendship between us. After Lisbon, we know now we can count on each other.



Time to harvest

temps des vendanges I went to visit a family of wine growers living in Burgundy. It was in the midst of the harvest season. To the joy of everyone, grapes were abundant and of great quality. We had a mild and sunny September. Everybody was happy. 

They brought me to the vines in the evening light. I was in admiration before the magnificent landscape that lay before us.
I approached some young workers. They were busy cutting the grapes. Some of them were sitting on the ground to do their work because they were tired. I noticed they cared for the weakest among them. Others came around to help them fill their baskets and then empty them in the tractor. I encouraged them by saying: that it would soon be the end of the working day.

The evening offered quite a sight. The young arrived at the table starving and extremely tired. It had been a long and a tiring day for them. 

le repas

At the end of the meal, one of them asked me: "what are we doing tonight? Are we going out? Are we going to town? " And then, all of them were filled with a new energy. They went out and returned late at night. At seven a.m., wake up time, it was again another sight to see this cheerfull crowd.




Sunday Mass

The large modern Ravensburg church in Bavaria was full. I took pleasure of presiding Eucharist along with the parish priest, a friend, and in front of a crowd that was happy to be there.

A choir and the musicians were in the chorus. And the crowd was singing! I will never be tired to look at a singing crowd. It is so rare! The Germans like to sing. It is their second nature. Their faces were filled with joy and their songs enchanted me.

The chorus was filled with altar servants, boys and girls. When I started to pray in German, they seemed alert, attentive and amused by my pronunciation.

autour d'autel Before starting the prayer to our Holy Father, the parish priest invited the children of the assembly to gather around the altar. They immediately left their church benches like the birds leave their nest. 

I saw two young children coming slowly at the end of the line holding hands. Each request to our Father was accompanied by a gesture. The children were doing this very naturally. I was trying to do the same as much as I could. The souvenir of this Sunday Mass will stay for a long time in my memory.