France seen by a priest: “I would like us to relearn how to say thank you”

Originally from Janzé, a town in Ille-et-Vilaine, Father Gaël Sachet, 42, has been working in Saint-Malo for four years. It is in this Gallo country, a land of strong Christian culture, that his vocation and his mission are rooted. Entered the seminary of Rennes after a degree in literature, he was ordained a priest in June 2007. Parish vicar, he takes care of youth ministry and is the diocesan chaplain of the Eucharistic Youth Movement (MEJ). ” This youth is a promise “, he testifies.

The Cross The Weekly : What makes you get up in the morning?

Father Gael Sachet: The mission that awaits me, the encounters to be experienced. Those scheduled on the agenda, but also the surprises, the unexpected from God. And of course, the celebration of the Eucharist and the appointment with the Lord in prayer. This is the life I have chosen, which presupposes availability and gratuity to put myself at the service of the usual requests – baptisms, weddings, funerals, visits to the sick – and to remain attentive to the expectations of people of all ages that we come across, believers or not. While keeping in mind that a priest is neither a social organizer nor a superman, but a meeting point between God and men.

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How are the French seen from your presbytery?

PGS: Responsible for youth ministry, I see that our youth are full of life, energy and promise. But she also needs support to gain confidence. She needs to feel the presence of adults at her side and in whom to trust, on whom to lean, and in the domain which is mine, to be accompanied in her journey of faith. I think of this young senior, from a non-believing family, baptized last spring at his request. He recently confided to me that after mass, a lady asked him to pray for her grandson who takes drugs. He sought counsel in the face of this suffering. All these young people who join our Church, after a personal journey, are like a beacon to illuminate our communities. Our society is in the grip of a malaise, a malaise that I link to an exacerbated form of individualism. We never have enough, we compare ourselves to others, we envy our neighbor. But I also observe great aspirations for fraternity, as witnessed by committed Catholics and people of good will who concretely mobilize for their brothers.

What is your assessment of the past five years?

PGS: I can clearly see that the expression of the Christian faith continues to lose ground in France. There is a shortage of priestly vocations, there is a lack of committed Christians, the churches are emptying. Not to mention the scandals affecting the Church. We can despair. Personally, I see it as a call from the Holy Spirit. The goal is not to make a number but to make a sign. To be a welcoming, fraternal and joyful community that makes you want to knock on your door. As Pope Francis said, we must be a poor Church for the poor. And build bridges instead of walls.

A scene that marked you?

PGS: It’s a story of almost nothing. During the first confinement, for sanitary reasons, it was forbidden to gather for worship, which was difficult for many, especially the elderly. One of them told me that one day, while watching mass on television, she received a message on her cell phone from her usual seatmate wishing her the peace of Christ. This touched and comforted her a lot. It is this fund of kindness in each of us that gives me hope. For some, it comes naturally. In others, it must be brought out. Undoubtedly, the loss of the sense of God has something to do with it. My role as a priest is to try to allow everyone to express the best of themselves, to help people to blossom, through the encounter with Jesus the Saviour. What saddens me is the radicalization in the positions that are invading the public space. We talk a lot, but it’s more and more difficult to listen to each other. How, then, can we manage to get along if we no longer know how to listen to each other? I would also like us to rediscover the sense of contemplation and gratitude that goes with it. Let’s learn to say thank you again.

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What is most important to you in your job?

PGS: Will I surprise you if I say: share the good news of Jesus dead and risen? One does not go without the other: if Jesus is resurrected, it is because he first had to go through death. This is the mission that is closest to my heart: where we think everything is dead, resurrect life and the desire to fight for more justice for all. Try to make it clear that every life is good news.

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What would be the first action you would take if you were president?

PGS: In my reflection as a priest on the future of the Church, I often say to myself that the latter must be primarily present in two places: education and care. If I were president, these would be the two sectors that I would strengthen. Teaching because there is nothing more essential than training young minds to open up, to develop their personality, which is quite different from ingesting knowledge, even if it is important. And the field of care, which does not only consist in applying ever more effective techniques to heal sick bodies, but in supporting all vulnerable people in our society with humanity.


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