Western France | Emotions and meditation during a tribute to the murdered priest

(Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre) “He is greatly missed”: Around 70 parishioners paid homage to Father Olivier Maire during a mass on Tuesday morning in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre (Vendée), the day after his death and the confession of his murderer .

Posted on Aug 10, 2021 at 7:25 am

Maxime MAMET Agence France-Presse

The faithful were able to gather in the crypt of the Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort basilica for a mass dedicated to the victim who died at the age of 60.

“It was a moment of reflection. There weren’t any more people than usual, ”explains Alice, a member of the ward who regularly attends morning masses.

“It was even more important to come this morning. It’s been a shock, it’s a great loss. It was a size on a church level, a fountain of knowledge, ”confides Patricia, who is in the office every Tuesday.

Under the vaults of the crypt, the celebrants, unwilling to speak to the many journalists present, praised the personality of Father Olivier, who had welcomed his alleged murderer to the Montfortian community.

“Saint Laurent was a martyr, and so was Olivier. […] Let’s pray for his family, let’s pray for the congregation, ”said a priest simply in the preamble of the mass.

In the square in front of the basilica, the faithful also showed their solidarity with Father Olivier.

“He was a holy priest. He has given us sermons of extraordinary richness, ”said Jean.

“We’re torn, we saw him every morning. We were kidding. Father Olivier was a walking stick to lean on in difficult times. He heard Catholics from both extremes. We will miss him very much ”, regrets Bertrand, who runs the bookstore in the small town of 3,600 people.

The church man was killed on Sunday night. Emmanuel Abayisenga, 40, of Rwandan nationality, went to the gendarmerie Monday morning and accused himself of murder before being admitted to the psychiatric ward that evening.

The suspect, who was also the alleged arsonist of Nantes Cathedral in July 2020, was received by the Montfortian Fathers as part of his judicial review and was awaiting trial.

“At the end of love”

Father Olivier “was given for this person,” explains Anne-Marie at the end of the morning mass.

“He has reached the end of his love. We didn’t realize he was welcoming this person, ”she says.

“I think it is the right thing to welcome him,” says Patricia. For two more parishioners, the hour of forgiveness for the murderer comes next.

“Forgiveness is in every heart,” says John, a prayer book under his arm. “Why the anger? There are enough of them on earth. There is sadness because he is a being who has given us a lot. ”

“It’s hard to forgive, it’ll come later,” breathes Alice, visibly moved.

A vigil is planned from Tuesday evening at 8 p.m., confirmed the parish of Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre.

For its part, the Diocese of Luçon organizes vigils on Wednesday evening in the cathedral and on Thursday in Sables-d’Olonne (Vendée).

According to a source close to the file, an autopsy of the victim’s body was planned for Tuesday, which should provide further information about the circumstances of his death.

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