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Brother Henri Vergès

05/05/2006: Algeria

A man who always tended towards more clarity and simplicity.
Born on the 15th July 1930 in the East Pyrenees, France.
At 12 years of age, he started his journey towards Marist life.
At 22 years of age, he pronounced his perpetual vows as a Little Brother of Mary.

From 1958 to 1966 he was sub-master of novices in Corrèze (Notre-Dame de Lacabane).
On the 6th August 1969 he arrived in Algeria.
His apostolic life in this country knew three stages:
* from 1969 to 1976 he was Director of the Saint Bonaventure school, in Algiers;
* from 1976 to 1988 he was a teacher of mathematics at the Sour-El-Ghozlane ;
* from 1988 onwards he worked in Algiers, responsible for the diocesan library that more than a thousand young people from the neighbourhood of the Casbah frequented.
He was murdered in his work office, with Sister Paul-Hélène, on the 8th May 1994, in the early afternoon.

During his funeral, on Thursday 12th May, the feast of the Ascension, Cardinal Duval declared: “Dear Brother Henri was an authentic witness to the love of Christ, to the absolute impartiality of the Church and to fidelity to the Algerian people.”

Henri thus summarised his lived experience in the house of Islam: “… It is my Marist commitment that has allowed me, despite my limitations, to harmoniously be part of the Moslem environment, and my life in this environment, in its turn, has made me more profoundly a Marist Christian. May God be praised!”

In 1986, he wrote:
“Let the Peace of Christ invade me always more and more intimately. Patience, gentleness towards myself, patience gentleness towards all, in particular the young people the Lord entrusts to me. Virgin Mary, make me an instrument of peace for the world.
“Patience, calm and tranquil perseverance. As the sower who entrusts his grain to the earth and allows the time of God to do its work. An essential attitude for an educator: especially as I do not know the rhythm of development of each of these young people. God has simply sent me to sow the seed in the field chosen by Him: thus to sow in peace and to leave him to look after the growth. Without being surprised by the presence of the cross, as in the life of Jesus himself.”

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