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Gathering between Christians and Muslims

A powerful moment, according to the spirit of Tibhirine, was lived by 90 people on March 8th, 9th and 10th, 2019, at the Ile Blanche -the Reception House in Locquirec, Brittany, France "a preferred site for spiritual renewal, healing and wellness"-.  Here are some reactions shared among all the numerous messages received: "Wonderful moment of encounters, friendships and humor, at an intensity that I did not expect !..." "I am carried away by the grace of this weekend!" "All these various avenues of reflexion which will help to build a path of peace with the message of Tibhirine will be extremely precious in our daily lives."

Planned for quite some time, on a suggestion of Father Jean-François Petit, Assumptionist, who came to animate, in our house, deepening our considerations on the message of the monks of Tibhirine, this was first a symposium project to enable us to pursue the initiated reflexion: How to live the spirit of Tibhirine today? And from the outset, we have risked invitation to think about this project with engaged people in various ways in this "Christian-Muslim" dialogue, dialogue which we measure the significance in today's context. All the competent authorities: movements, various collectives eager to contribute to this spiritual and religious opening answered 'Present'! And then throughout the evening preparation, lived between Christians and Muslims, the symposium project blossomed into an "encounter", simultaneously to share experiences already underway, reacting, questioning ourselves but also to receive a strong message inviting us to go further, deeper.

We weren’t disappointed! As the encounter started, during a round table, an aim was initiated by three speakers: Father Jean-François Petit, Mgr Rault Bishop Emeritus of Laghouat-GardaÏa (Algeria) who lived very close to the monks of Tibhirine and Khaled Roumo, poet-writer of Syrian origin, so keen to make progress on a "spiritual sharing" between people of differing faiths. "We have to jointly seek a new language and find new ways of convergences to renew our practices..." declared Jean-François Petit. And everyone, in their own way, embarked on this sharing adventure.

A sharing of experiences, firstly lived in 7 forums, that caused various initiatives: the slightly crazy challenge launched 10 years ago by young people within the movement "Coexist" -youth movement whose vocation is to advocate the coexistence between people of different faiths and unbelievers-, the stimulating experience of the "Pardon of the Seven Saints", -Islamic-Christian Pilgrimage which is being held in Vieux Marché, commune of the department of Côtes-d'Armor, in the Brittany Region-, and in other towns of this same region, the training activities of the C.R.E.D. I collective (Cultures and Religions in Interreligious Dialogue) in Brest and Quimper, those of the collective E.S.P.O.I.R.S (Listening and Solidarity for an Interreligious and Spiritual Sharing and Openness) in Lannion. Space was also made for personal testimonies: an Islamic-Christian couple linked to other mixed couples in France and with the Tibhirine movement in Nantes, a couple representing the families of the monks and a couple who lived in Tibhirine for 2 years after the death of the monks. More than just testimonies, they were really engaging exchange times for all participants! In this momentum, a 'World Coffee' -an interactive method- allowing us to share on the "Five pillars of peace" which are, according to Christian de Chergé: Patience, Poverty, Presence, Prayer and Forgiveness. Moment of intense communion between all of us, each deeply committed in this sharing!

The presence of youth, throughout this weekend, allowed us to live with them a round table which left us with an ultimate breath of hope. Thank you Fady, Maiwenn, Florent, Ilham, Doulkamali, Soizic, Pierre, 7 young people, 'a symbolic number', pointed out a participant! Your spontaneous sharing of your experience, fully engaged with the movement Coexist, scouting, the collective ESPOIRS has given place to a rich intergenerational moment of exchange; sharing where all the stakeholders willingly participated in a simple way, each addressing in their own way, messages that we have not finished to meditate on. "What we experience at these hours can open a real path of reciprocity, says Bishop Rault. Tibhirine is here, and we are invited to live it in all the places where we will be... God dreams with us, and we must give a human face to the dream of God."

At the end of this new sequence, a beautiful emotion passed through the assembly, leading naturally to the Sunday Eucharist or the "spiritual walk" nourished by texts drawn from both Christian and Muslim sources, as were the every day opening times of prayer. Pleasant surprise: at the end of the celebration, all gathered in the chapel, we took communion listening to the 'poem-prayer' written on the occasion of the beatification of the monks of Tibhirine with 13 other witnesses of the faith, on December 8th, 2018, in Oran: "Hail to you, the beautiful, the magnificent… Hail to you and to your friends here below or at your side... "Thank you, Khaled, for the many 'pearls' that you have given us, in your invitation to "expand bridges, to live and carry forward a true spiritual sharing."

We wanted an encounter which pushes us to go further … The three speakers were each able to punctuate all the sequences mentioned here of words that we carry as 'gifts.'

And to leave on the land of the Ile-Blanche a beautiful mark of these unforgettable hours, we have planted the olive tree of Peace. An invitation to reread and welcome in a renewed way the message received from our Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar at the end of an International Congress on human fraternity held in Abou Dhabi in February 2019: "In the name of God who created all beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and have been called to coexist as brothers among themselves, to populate the earth and to spread the values of right, of charity and peace..." Let us meet up at the foot of the olive tree. Together, it will feel good to remember it!

The DHS community of the Ile Blanche. Published on 19 March 2019

Filles du Saint-Esprit 15 bd. Sebastopol 35101 Rennes Cedex 2 France

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