Brothers and Sisters needed ‘for friendship and prayer in the midst of an essentially Muslim population.’
The Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart are looking for volunteers, priests or lay, to strengthen their fraternities on the Assekrem plateau and in Tamanrasset, in the Great Algerian South.
“The Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Tamanrasset, and the Little Brothers of Jesus of Tamanrasset and Assekrem appeal to all lay people, religious or priests, who could make themselves available to come and live with them in these two places in the Algerian Sahara, where Charles de Foucauld lived,” they wrote in a joint text.
As early as the 1950s, the Brothers and Sisters of the “family” of the Blessed Charles de Foucauld wanted to return and settle where he spent the last 11 years of his life, and where he was murdered on Dec. 1, 1916.
Of course, the place has changed a lot.
The former village of Tamanrasset, with about 20 huts in 1905, has become an administrative and military capital of more than 150,000 inhabitants — Haratins and Tuaregs but also now Arabs, Kabyles and Mozabites — to which sub-Saharan migrants have been added.
As for the Assekrem plateau, perched at an altitude of 2,800 meters above the picturesque Hoggar, it now attracts European and Algerian tourists.
The Brothers restored the hermitage that Charles de Foucauld had built for himself to facilitate his contacts with the Tuaregs and built several other small hermitages, offering “a place conducive to silence, contemplation and spiritual retreat”, as well as a larger one for the Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart.
But here, where it hopes to revive these historic places, the Charles de Foucauld Family is short of members — only two Brothers live at Assekrem, while three others, as well as a Little Sister of the Sacred Heart, live in Tamanrasset.
Because “their desire is to maintain in this source place their presence of friendship and prayer in the midst of an essentially Muslim population,” they have chosen to launch a “triple call” together, with the support of Bishop John MacWilliam of Laghouat in Algeria.
This one is addressed to “religious or lay men who are volunteers, attracted by a contemplative life” and who would participate in welcoming retreatants as well as visitors passing through.
Discreet and supportive presence
The Little Brothers and Little Sisters would also like to welcome a priest who “has the desire for a time in the desert, for rest and study,” in the manner of Brother Charles, “in prayer and welcoming everyone.” This presence would promote the life of their small Christian community.
Finally, the call is also addressed to women, religious or lay, to live “a discreet, contemplative and supportive presence” among the inhabitants of Tamanrasset.
These places in which the “universal brother” lived are “places of life with a strong sense of meaning for a Christian presence,” underline together those who continue to give them life.
“We seek to give concrete expression to the values of solidarity in our daily lives, with the Muslim population that welcomes us and migrants from sub-Saharan countries, some of whom are Christians,” they said.
For more information contact:
- For clerics: the Bishop of Laghouat: evecheghardaia(at)gmail.com;
- for laymen: Br. Paul F. Garrigou-Lagrange: paulfgl63(at)yahoo.com;
- and for women: Little Sister Isabel Lara: isabeltrinidad(at)yahoo.fr