A Christmas letter from Gilles Mathorel

Gilles-MathorelDear Friends from Zambia

It is high time for me to send you some news. First and foremost I had the joy to share a meal with Fr. Christopher Chileshe, here in Brussel. We had a very long time to share about the news from Zambia and from Brussel. Here we do have many Africans. But most of them are from Congo. Once after a mass, I had the joy to hear someone telling me: “My wife is from Zambia!” But they were tourists from London. Just too bad for me.

You may have heard that last year in November, I moved from the AMANI Center to our community of ARCRE, a community trying to follow up all what is happening between the Western World and Muslim World; and at the same time, we do work for a better relation between Christians and Muslims, in short a better and deeper “Vivre Ensemble”. So we are running a Web Site to the name of ARCRE where we publish all the documents and articles related to those topics. Please go and see it at least once in order to see what we are trying to do. On my part, I am more especially concerned with the presentation and review of books which could be interesting or which anyone can find for sale in any bookstore. It asks me a lot of readings and patience. We have to consult and read, at least just in order to know that this book or this article has very little value.

We do have a lot of contacts with various people working in the same line than ourselves. We participate in a variety of meeting, conferences and seminars. The weak point is our direct contacts with Muslims. On that point we still have a lot to do

We are supposed to go on like that up to 2016. After that, we shall probably have a new team, a younger team. Because I remain the youngest of the community and as you know I am 69 by now. Already, one of us, Father Eric Bladt, has left us because of health problem; and we remain only two by now: Fr. Agustin Arteche from Spain, formerly in Burkina and Sudan, and myself. So we are not the ideal community.

This year of 2014 will be remembered as the year during which I broke my wrist. On the day of Pentecost, running up in order to buy ice cream for my community, I did not see a small step on the pavement, fell on the ground and so it happened. Result: 5 weeks with plaster on the wrist followed by 30 session of health care by specialist. Now I am okay a part from feeling some time to time the peace of iron covering part of my wrist. Health problems are part of life. I am far away from Zambia but I realize that I am well cared for in that domain. Health wise I do feel more secure here in Europe than in Zambia and with the insurance, it is quite cheap.

I am still working on a part time basis in a local parish. It is demanding but very rewarding. We have a lot of Africans coming to this parish. Twice a week, I am receiving people for encounter or confession. And as our street is right in the middle of the Shopping Mall of Brussels, a lot of people are coming in. When Africans are knocking, I let them talk and narrate their trouble. When finally I ask them: “And your family, where do they come from?” and once I mention to them that I had been 35 years in Zambia, then you should see the big smile on their face: “Then you are going to understand!” are often enough their joyful answer.

Through internet, I am following all what is happening in Zambia. The Post has no more a Web site but the Times of Zambia still have. I know that you are preparing for the next election. It does not seem to be so easy. I keep Zambia in my prayers.

Dear All, I keep you in my prayers. Africa is still my baby although here in Brussels.

May God bless you all! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


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