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8 May: 23rd anniversary of Brother Henri Vergès’ assassination

05/05/2017: General House

Brother Henri Vergès was assassinated on 8 May 1994 in Algiers, alongside Sister Paul-Hélène. In his funeral, Cardinal Léon-Etienne Duval, Archbishop of Algiers, told us: “Brother Henri was an authentic witness of the love of Christ, and of absolutely disinterested service of the Church and fidelity to the people of Algeria.”

In this link, there are different resources available that commemorate the life and the testimony of this Marist of Champagnat.

To commemorate his anniversary, we would like to share the following text by Brother Alain Delorme, where he describes a certain activity in France, that shows how the testimony of Brother
Henri Vergès is also a current message for all of us.
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On Thursday, 23 March 2017, the Marist community of the French region of Tricastin (Saint-Paul-3-Châteaux) felt happy to be in the company of around 100 people that attended the representation of the “fifth Gospel,” a piece that recalls the Algerian journey of Brother Henri Vergès, an apostle of youth for 25 years.

Francesco Agnello, stage director, and Jean Baptiste Germain, comedian, captivated the audience with the quality of their representation.

It should be remembered that the text composed by Brother Adrien Candiard, Dominican, highlights the qualities of Henri Vergès as a religious educator.

These are 7 letters, 4 from Ahmed, an ex-student of Henri, and 3 of from Henri. In an impressive silence, the audience followed the message that was being revealed in this correspondence.

The dialogue, at the end of the performance, allowed us to emphasise some aspects of our brother's testimony that impressed the audience the most, particularly their fraternity open to all.

The last paragraph of Ahmed’s last letter admirably states:

“There is one last thing I had to tell you. For a long time I thought you were a father to me, as a gift from God to make up for the father I did not have. I think I told you. But I realise now that that was not entirely true. You’ve been much more than that. You've been my brother, and that’s weirder. Today, everyone wants to be a father and to impose on others, through love, their authority and their power. You have never imposed anything on me; You were content to love me. The world would be better if we had fewer parents. The world would be better if we only had brothers.”

We wish the “fifth gospel” a beautiful future, especially among the youth to whom Henri dedicated his life. The success of “Pierre et Mohamed” which continues to attract viewers since 2011 when the play was performed at the Avignon festival. To date, it has surpassed nine hundred representations.

We must also remember that Francesco Agnello, on the occasion of the centenary of the death of Father de Foucauld, staged the performance entitled “Charles de Foucauld, universal Brother,” premiered at Viviers in December 2016 in the chapel where Brother Charles had been ordained priest.

With the “fifth gospel,” the author completes an Algerian trilogy. On the other hand, Brother Adrien Candiard, just received the prize of the religious booksellers 2017 for his book: “Watcher, where is the night? Short treatise on hope for the use of contemporaries,” editions Cerf.

N.B. "The fifth Gospel" is represented in Paris, in the chapel of Our Lady of the Angels, 102 bis, rue de Vaugirard, (75006) every Sunday, until June 25, at 5:00 p.m. Free entrance.

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Br Alain Delorme

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