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    Pierre Lefebvre

    Pierre Lefebvre

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    LEFEBVRE_PIERRE.pngPierre Lefebvre (1926-2022) 

     

    Born in Mouscron (Belgium), February 9, 1926

    He was a missionary in Congo (Kinshasa) and Belgium.

    Died in Liège (Belgium), March 9, 2022, at the age of 96.

     

     

    “I wonder why I have always taken the same path. What motivated me? It appears that I have been pushed forward throughout my life, a kind of call to which it was impossible to say no,” Pierre began the letter he wrote to us before his death. Throughout his active life, Pierre took several paths. As a theology professor, he felt most at ease at the Institute of Religious Sciences in Kinshasa because he had to find ways to adapt theological language to laypeople, men, and women who would be animators of communities or teachers of religion.

    However, he was uncomfortable teaching “truths,” and the Second Vatican Council literally set him free in 1964, according to his own words: the Church must not focus on itself. Its mission is to be leaven in the world’s dough, bringing more humanity and justice to the world. Thus, as Superior of the Missionary Fraternity in Saint-Denis near Mons, he directed all his activities (conferences, retreats, recollections, writings, etc.) in accordance with the Council’s will: a Church for the world. Until now, laypeople and priests remember the impact that this lay community and CICM had on the pastoral work of the Tournai diocese.

    In 1967, he was appointed to the Ongoing Formation in Kinshasa, where he was in charge of the editions “Épiphanie” and the weekly illustrated magazine “Afrique Chrétienne,” for which he wrote many articles advocating for social change. He was expelled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1972 as a result of an unfavorable editorial for Mobutu, the country’s president. Nonetheless, as soon as he boarded the plane, he was called back because the expulsion had been canceled in order to avoid a diplomatic incident.

    For nearly thirty years, Pierre and a small team of CICM staff created and animated the Centre d’Information et d’Animation Missionnaire (CIAM). Their main goal was to design and animate sessions based on the See-Judge-Act method. They organized hundreds of sessions across Congo and many African countries.

    The “Épiphanie” publishing house produced approximately thirty booklets on the topics covered during the sessions. This resulted in his second expulsion in 1986. Following the publication of “Élections démocratiques,” the CIAM published “La non-violence évangélique.” However, because these ideas were followed by an opposition party, Pierre was accused of plotting and expelled.

    Back in Brussels in the 2000s, he was the spiritual animator of the Carmelites on Rue de Lausanne in Brussels. While helping them write their history, he fell in love with the ideas of Marguerite Porette, a mystic, according to his own words. Marguerite was burned alive in 1310 because she separated herself from the Church as an institution in order to be closer to Jesus.

    In 2012, he devoted the same amount of time and effort to animating the Petites Soeurs des Pauvres Nursing Home in Brussels’ Marolles neighborhood.

    While traveling throughout the Congo and parts of Africa and giving hundreds of conferences, Pierre would sit quietly beside simple people in very poor health to listen to them and cheer them up with jokes that were always welcome. Unfortunately, his eyesight deteriorated, forcing him to turn over his position to another confrere, Léon Debruyne, in 2017. The community of Embourg appreciated Pierre’s contagious sense of humor and his analyses of world events. He animated several times, sharing and reminiscing. After several hospitalizations, he died at the age of 96. 

    Jean Peeters and Bernard Parmentier


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