Letter of July 1 st 2002 from Jacques Gaillot
20 years already!





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Rose  20 years already!  bon anniversaire 
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.

au jardin du Luxembourg  The weather was beautiful. People were arriving at the wonderful garden of Luxembourg, carrying their lunch bag and greeting each other. 
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 the poor…  amis
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 struggle"…
These meetings filled me with happiness.
We left the Luxembourg garden to go quietly to the Spiritan Chapel.

Célèbration  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 with me.

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 themselves.
He understood that the Blacks have to be evangelized by the Blacks and that the Church at Mauritius cannot be installed without them.

Jacques Laval  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.