Letter 10

Posted March 25, 2022

Hello Fr Gailhac!

I am a collaborator of the Institute of the sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary, your most lasting work. I am employed in the Provincial Centre of the Brazil Area of the IRSCM . My function is to articulate the pastoral care of the five SCM colleges in Brazilian lands, a mission facilitated by the competence of the persons who assume the coordination of the Units and by the trust (con that the Religious, your “daughters”, place in us. 

Today, to be precise, I am working from home, in quarantine because I have contracted Covid-19, the Omicron variant, together with my wife and youngest daughter. Thanks to the three doses of vaccine already taken, we are experiencing mild symptoms.  That is not the case unfortunately for millions of others infected around the world. There is so much suffering and so many preventable deaths, especially in poor countries and among the most vulnerable! 

Ah, Gailhac, if only you were here! Surely, having been a hospital chaplain for 21 years, you would be outraged at the indifference of so many governments towards the health of their subjects and at the lack of solidarity among countries to eradicate this pandemic that is entering its third year.

I am sure, however, that you would be indignant. It was not like you to only identify a problem and then do nothing to solve it. You would look for solutions, as you did in Béziers, when you saw the needs of women caught up in prostitution, of orphaned children or neglected by their parents, of young girls destined to a life of giving, of middle-class families seeking an integral education for their daughters, of poor boys at risk of falling into boredom  and violence, of religious women in need of spiritual guidance and of former sex workers seeking new horizons. 

You founded the Good Shepherd Refuge, the orphanage, the Institute of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary, the Boarding School (1st SCM School!), the Agricultural School of Bayssan, the Congregation of the Fathers and Brothers of the Good Shepherd and the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary. For every need, a specific response!

You were a man of few words, deep discernment and much action. You analyzed reality in the light of faith and, once you grasped the will of God in a given matter, you did everything to carry it out. Your model was Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who came so that all might have life, and have it to the full (cf. Jn 10:1-18). You taught your “daughters” to be “other Jesus Christ” in their times and places, not to retreat in the face of challenges, to fix their eyes on the objectives you had set and to add their abilities and competences to the divine grace that would never be lacking.

In this way you established partnerships, contributed to the transformation of people and mobilized them to do volunteer work and to social commitment. You did in your time what Pope Francis asks us to do today: to forget oneself and reach out to others, establishing a culture of dialogue, respecting differences and uniting individuals, families, civil society and governmental bodies for the constitution of a “global village” or a “universal brotherhood/sorority” for the sake of life and the good of society and the planet.

Gailhac, you have been, in your socio-political context, a builder of bridges of justice and solidarity. The contemporary world needs references like you. May your example encourage and mobilize us: your “daughters”; we (us), your collaborators; each and every human being. Intercede for us with the Trinity, so that Humanity may be one in diversity, as She is in her essence, (and) so that life may be experienced to the full for all, everyone and everything, without exception.

Waldemar Bettio

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