"We are together"
To you, Jean-Louis, my dear and great friend,
As you know, our friendship was built up over the days and missions we shared in the Central African Republic or in Belgium.
It started like a mustard seed thrown into the ground, and grew over time and latitudes.
I hardly remember our first meeting, certainly in Paris at the Secours Catholique, in the Africa Department where we were both volunteers and then collaborators.
Our itineraries, which were reciprocal, were enriched by each of our meetings, by our time together. Our exchanges were lively, our discussions fruitful, on our paths here and there. You have strengthened my love for Africa.
Jean-Louis, you have been for me a sign of what ethical and responsible commitment means. Without renunciation, with gratuity. A fighter and fighter in the face of the inequalities from which our humanities suffer, you said yes (after a little Ignatian discernment) when I spoke to you about the Josefa Foundation project; you have committed yourself to it without fail and faithfully. Without you, without our "togetherness", Josefa would have had less strength to be born. You have watched over Josefa, you have carried it in your own way, you have accompanied it in its development.
And, in fact, you, the faithful companion, have made yourself present. Present at my side and I at yours so that this madness, which was the creation of Josefa, took on body and spirit.
"All migrants": you have often had a little difficulty in entering into this vision, you the man inclined more towards a charity exercised with the most "vulnerable". For you, the migrant remained, on the whole, the other who needed to be helped. But sometimes, in the course of our discussions, in the many texts you wrote and reread for Josefa, you entered deeply into the Josefa vision, recognising your own migration, your condition as a migrant.
On Monday, 6 February 2023, you began a final migration to the One you and I recognise as Father.
Together, we often spoke of theology, of the Church, and you and I were men in perpetual questioning. Our friendship, great, allowed us to go far in the intimacy of our exchanges: what debates, what disputatios which, I think, led us to grow, you as you, together, in our Christian, human faith.
For me, you embodied the image of submission, in the sense of faithfulness, both faithful and free, to an Other, and to the others, including myself, who were close to you. What a beautiful message your way of being in the world was.
Beyond your young age, well beyond what some call "retirement", you never gave up in your daily tasks (what a craftsman you were) as in your more societal or political commitments (what a man of convictions you were).
You are a witness, and a bridge-builder, and you will remain so for many, and for me in particular.
In addition to your closeness, like me, (another point of complicity between us), but in your own way, to the Society of Jesus, you had in fact essentially a great attention and a constant affection for your family, for Marie-Thérèse, for your children. We talked about this a lot. The family was vital for you.
I would dare to add that you were a man of prayer: there again, what an example.
In your own way, you were, beyond a few debatable certainties (which we have done a lot of), a man of openness, availability and astonishment. Thank you: thanks to you, I have picked up some of this seed.
Today, you are opening up a new path for us, that of friendship at a distance, more spiritual. Another migration. I listen to you, to the beautiful silence that envelops you. You, man of writing and words, continue to communicate your wise spirit to us.
Thank you for all that you have contributed through your earthly life. Eternity is not too much for a committed man like you. Beautiful and fruitful migration towards the One who welcomes you.
Jean-Louis, friend, brother, companion, you have discreetly moved away, but you will always be close.
"We are together", as you liked to say.