Monsignor Henri Teissier, former bishop of Oran and then of Algiers, died on December 1st, the feast day of Blessed Charles de Foucauld. Father Teissier, both French and Algerian, was a man of encounter and dialogue between cultures. I had the joy of knowing him and conversing with him.
He simply made his signature as he himself lived, as a man, as he was: " Amitiés. Henri Teissier". A friendship in the field, very perceptible when he was driving his car, one hand on the steering wheel, the other hand accompanying his words and his watchful gaze, turned towards places and faces whose memory he kept faithfully. To this was added his determination, the courage of a man of faith and culture. Inexhaustible enthusiast of Emir Abdelkader, he saw in this prophet of the middle of the 19th century, a pioneer of the Islamic-Christian dialogue who already announced the urgency of living as brothers in Algeria.
Henri Teissier was convinced that the Kingdom of God is built where "one works for humanity". In fact, he lived as a tireless seeker of humanity, in all weathers, especially during the dark years of Algeria in the midst of terrorism, a disarming fraternity that does not give in to what is non-negotiable: respect for human life and for the word given, confrontation without violence.
He led Anne and I, like many others, to Tibherine, after the assassination of the monks. I can still see him sitting next to the gardener, witnessing together a presence that never dies. Such a presence of a Church for brothers and sisters, whoever they may be, is palpable in Des hommes et des dieux. The film evokes the metaphor of the tree and the branches on which the birds come to rest. A monk says to an Algerian neighbour: "We are the birds and you are the branch". She replies: "We are the birds, you are the branch. If you leave, on whom can we rest? "This beautiful reciprocal hospitality remains alive today, between natives and missionaries who have married this land forever.
Father Teissier will be buried on Wednesday in the Basilica of Our Lady of Africa in Algiers. During the funeral homily last Saturday in Lyon, Father Christian Delorme addressed his friend in this way:
With your body, it is all our love for the Algerian people that goes with you.
A word of life in Algeria.
Roots and wings for a fraternal history written in the light of the Gospel, as early as the 2nd century, and exalted one day later by St Augustine (354-430):
Fraternal love comes from God, it is God himself.