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8 May 2013 : Brothers Basilio Rueda and Henri Vergès

07/05/2013: General House

On this day in 1994, a Sunday afternoon, Brother Henri Vergès offered the testimony of blood after 25 years in the service of young people in Algeria. We recall his memory in associating it with that of Brother Basilio Rueda, who always supported Henri in his apostolate.

The Institute judged it fitting, a dozen years ago, to open a process for the beatification of these two Brothers. Such a process, which reveals our gratitude and admiration for their witness, each according to his way of life, can become a stimulus in our daily work.

The anniversary of Henri’s violent death is an occasion for recalling the deep brotherly friendship he had for Brother Basilio, who fully returned it. The extracts from letters which follow testify to this.

On 24 December 1976, Henri writes to Brother Basilio, then Superior General, from Sour-El-Ghozlane, a little town on the high plateau, 120 km south of Algiers. He has been there several weeks, with another Brother, teaching Mathematics. Following the nationalisation of the schools by the Algerian State, Henri left, in June, the college of Saint-Bonaventure, in the heart of Algiers. He writes : « …Here we are, still more than in the past, in a situation of humble service speaking quite simply through our everyday life of our love for God and our brothers among whom we are present. It is indeed the life of Nazareth with its work, its  humble daily concerns to prepare the meals, do the housework, its many contacts with the common people, its moments, too, of silence and welcoming the Lord… I think it is a grace of God to be living at this time, strongly encouraged by those responsible for the Church in Algeria, in particular Cardinal Duval who has even promised us a visit soon, and which may also be a providential sign for our Institute. The more so as similar conditions of life must be lived by many of our Brothers throughout the world ». (Cf. Convergences, p. 42, Rome 2002)

class=imgshadowThe letter of 20 April 1977 receives a reply from Rome, dated 4 May. Brother Basilio writes : « …I thank you sincerely for having sent me in advance the text you you have destined for  “Étincelle” (the newsletter of the Province of Notre-Dame de l’Hermitage). I find it clear and precise and it will without a doubt be a subject of discussion among the Brothers. In fact, you are in some way precursors. Your experience and the way of life you are currently leading is a witness as much for the surrounding population as for the Brothers following this experience with sympathy and much interest. As for me, my dear Brother Henri, I congratulate you on your courage and your devotedness to the young people of the country ». (Cf. Convergences, p. 45/46)

Henri had asked, with the authorisation of the Provincial Council, for Algerian nationality. Brother Basilio replies to him from Rome on 26 May 1983 : « …The gesture you are making in asking for Algerian nationality is particularly beautiful : it is a really evangelical incarnation and I congratulate you with all my heart ». (Cf. Convergences, p. 97) Henri did not have the joy of seeing his request accepted.

These few extracts from correspondence give an idea of the reciprocal esteem and mutual affection of our two Brothers. The flame which burned in their apostolic hearts made them, each in his own way, servants of their brothers and young people.

Let us faithfully preserve their memory and ask them to communicate to us the pastoral charity with which they were filled. Let us entrust to them the Brothers and laity working in  “Ad Gentes” and more especially our two communities of Mostaganem and Oran. It is difficult not to see them as fruits of Henri’s love for the Algerian people, especially the young whom he loved to the extent of giving his life.

Brother Alain Delorme, vice-postulator for the cause of Brother Henri Vergès.

Read more: Henri Vergès | Basilio Rueda

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