Dedication of MIM Chapel to Blessed Angèle-Marie and Bibiane, Martyrs of Algeria

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Dedication of MIM Chapel to Blessed Angèle-Marie and Bibiane, Martyrs of Algeria

On this day dedicated to Mary, under the title of Mother of the Church, a joyous celebration was held, attended by SMA priests, members of two religious congregations, and lay friends of the Society of African Missions (SMA). The event, marked by spiritual fervor and communal solidarity, took place at the cradle of the SMA, where the faithful gathered to renew their commitment to the mission entrusted to them. Present were the provincial councils of the SMA Lyon and Strasbourg provinces as well as the OLA France Province and the MCSC General Council, who are attending a three-day meeting at the International Missionary House (MIM) in Lyon.

A Solemn Mass Presided by Father Michel Bonnemaison

Father Michel Bonnemaison presided over the Mass, delivering keynote opening remarks that resonated deeply with the attendees. He emphasized the significance of the gathering, highlighting the historical and spiritual roots of their mission. “Our spiritual family of Marion Brésillac is reunited at the cradle of the SMA to continue infusing renewed dynamism into the mission entrusted to us. To journey together, reaching out to those farthest away, especially our brothers in the Eastern Province,” he proclaimed.

Father Bonnemaison’s words recalled the early days of the African missions, where priests and seminarians from diverse backgrounds arrived to dedicate their lives to serving Africa. His address extended warm greetings to the Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles (OLA), who trained in Vénissieux, reflecting the unwavering determination of Augustin Planque. He also welcomed the Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart (MCSC), honoring their founders, Alice and Marie-Thérèse Munet, and their commitment to aiding wounded and neglected Africans on French soil.

Honoring the Legacy of Marian Brésillac

The celebration underscored the legacy of Marian Brésillac and the flourishing congregations born from his charism, which continue to thrive in Africa. Father Bonnemaison acknowledged the presence and contributions of the Oblate Catechists, Little Servants of the Poor in Benin, and the various congregations across African nations where SMA has made significant impact. He emphasized the spiritual continuity, “Many live our SMA spirituality fully. Let us ask Mary, Mother of the Church, to help us adhere more fully to self-giving, convinced like the martyrs of the Church in Algeria whom we particularly wish to honor today.”

Commemorating the Blessed Martyrs of Algeria

In a poignant moment, Father Bonnemaison announced that the chapel would be dedicated to the Blessed Martyrs of Algeria during the evening Mass at 6:30 PM. This dedication honors the memory of the OLA sisters, Angèle-Marie and Bibiane, who were tragically assassinated on September 3, 1995, in Algiers. This act of commemoration serves as a testament to the enduring spirit of sacrifice and devotion among the SMA and its affiliated congregations. The SMA Lyon chapel in MIM is now named after Blesseds Angela and Bibiane, Martyrs.

A Community United in Mission

The celebration was not only a reflection of historical reverence but also a vibrant testament to the present-day mission of the SMA and its associated congregations. The presence of laypeople, friends of the SMA, alongside the religious members, highlighted the collective commitment to the universal mission and service to today’s Africa. The event reinforced the bonds of spiritual kinship and the shared vision of spreading the Gospel and serving those in need.

Denise Leclercq, Sister Bibiane, was born on 8 January 1930 in Gazerau, France. She entered the Sisters of Notre-Dame des Apôtres on 4 March 1959. After her first vows on 8 March 1961, she was sent to Algeria to the maternity hospital in Constantine.
Jeanne Littlejohn, Sister Angèle-Marie, was born in Tunis on 22/11/1933. In 1957, Jeanne entered the postulancy and was given the name Angèle-Marie. She took her first vows on 8/9/1959 and left for Bouzarea in Algeria, where the sisters ran an orphanage and boarding school for young girls.

In conclusion, the festive gathering celebrated the profound legacy of Marian Brésillac and the ongoing mission of the SMA. It was a day of unity, reflection, and renewed dedication, with Mary, Mother of the Church, invoked as a guiding light for their continued journey.

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