Father Stan Rougier is celebrating his 90th birthday. As he humorously recalls, his first " apparition " took place near Lourdes, in the family home in Jurançon on June 23, 1930, fifth of six siblings. At the end of the year, he will celebrate 60 years of priesthood. Well recovered from Covid-19, we were fortunate enough to have a long meeting with this long-time friend of Fondacio on June 9th.
"The passion of the encounter"
His "passion for meeting people" remains intact. The book of the same name underlines one of Stan's credos: "In the evening of our lives, we will be rich only in the bonds we have forged day after day", a practice he continues to live every day and to transmit with enthusiasm. The very vivid memory of the many encounters, the many faces, that enriched Stan's life, especially in camps with young people, testify to the decisive importance of an authentic presence to build oneself solidly. "The empty heart does a hundred times more damage than the Covid. We build each other through encounter. In the eyes of God, each human being has more value than the whole universe. »
Passing on the considerable treasure of what life has taught us is at the heart of Stan's vocation today, with three more book projects to continue to share his hope. "Receiving life as a gift is the first remedy for fatigue and boredom. Joy, moreover, which is present in many stories in the Bible, is an excellent barometer, an inner compass to guide us, a sign that we are on the "right path". It is the call to a life that I call "life-size" where every man, every woman is on mission for the world, deploying their talents to give their full measure. »
The writer Christiane Singer, whose writing Stan enjoys so much, used to say in this sense: "We are constantly needed for the daily creation of the world. We are never the guardians of an accomplishment but always the co-creators of a future. »
"Young people, the future depends on you."
God is not acting in our place. Free, we are called to act. "Because God is Love, he wanted to mobilize us. The cause of our misfortunes is not in an indifference coming from God, but in a passivity coming from men" Stan Rougier tells us. Thus the safeguarding of our planet, the struggle for social justice, the construction of a more human and more just world will not come about by praying to a magical God who would do the work in our place. "It is through active, concrete and unsubstitutable resistance that we will embody what the Gospel proposes to us as another world: this world, but this world differently. ...] The unheard-of Gospel reveals a world where it would be possible to believe, hope and love" indicates Father Dominique Collin o.p.
" Of which God are young people atheists of? »
These words often recur in the writings of Stan Rougier. They speak of his attachment to renewing the language of the search for God in order to make the message of the Gospel audible to our contemporaries, especially to young people. Moreover, in his own experience of personal and interior construction, Stan speaks of the source of inspiration that Antoine de Saint Exupéry represented in his adolescence. He continues to verify the relevance of the writings of the author of The Little Prince in responding to young people's thirst for meaning, as an invitation to the enchantment of the soul. The book "What can be said to men? captures the intensity of Saint Exupéry's inner quest in words that "speak". "It is the same challenge of proclaiming the Good News to our contemporaries, far from ready-made liturgical formulas or the jargon of Christians who no longer manage to say something meaningful to people, the very essence of their lives. Stan Rougier's contribution to support and value all those who put themselves in tune with young people and people to transmit the Good News "that speaks" is fundamental. There is no age for rebuilding Hope.
Thank you Stan for being a companion for Fondacio and for being a tireless awakener of this God who has placed his Power in our hands and who out of respect for our freedom never ceases to call upon our consciences and our generosity.