[Paix Liturgique] Meeting with Father Lourdelet
SOURCE - Paix Liturgique- Letter 386 - May 7, 2013
I - PORTRAIT OF A COUNTRY PRIEST
|" I have fought the good fight "(2 Timothy 4, 7):|
Abbot Lourdelet private before the altar
where he celebrates Mass daily.
This is a archetypal French village priest that we show this week. Not a historical or sociological reconstruction, but the portrait of a priest in the flesh which this year celebrates his 69 years of priesthood. A diocesan priest who, throughout his life, maintained and defended the doctrinal, pastoral and liturgical tradition of the Church. One of these faithful priests with "a certain idea of the Church," who lived since his seminary and did everything to pass it on to new generations of priests.
However, and unlike most of his fellow priests he remained faithful to the traditional priesthood, the priest does not have to suffer the persecution of his superiors. He is one of those priests who, in a few dioceses have remained amid post-conciliar storms much like - remote analogy, of course - some jurors not priests crossed the revolution without damage. Providence had other plans for them. In this case, Providence wanted to keep him to perfect souls of the faithful and for the relief of those of his colleagues shaken by the crisis in the Church.
A priest of the diocese of Versailles and the Diocese of Pontoise after redistricting of the Church of Paris, pastor of Belloy-en-France from 1965 to 2004, Father Paul Lourdelet, since it is from him who has indeed been for nearly twenty years the successor of the Canon Catta at the head of "Opus Sacerdotale" before handing over to Father Julien Bacon, another admirable figure of priestly charity, a year older than him and from the Diocese of Arras.
One of our editors who had the grace to assist daily at the holy Mass of Father Lourdelet earlier this year, and had the pleasure of spending a few hours in his company, we offer this week the first a series of three short letters inspired by the example of this humble priest sentinel of the deposit of Faith. 
Born in 1921 in Versailles, Paul Lourdelet was ordained in 1944. At the time, the diocese of Versailles is the former department of Seine-et-Oise and covers the south, west and north of Paris. "My first appointment, he says, was vicar of Goussainville today a parish of the Diocese of Pontoise. I stayed there until 1949, alongside an excellent priest who helped me fix my shyness. In fact, he told me, or rather forced me to preach paperless. It is to him that I owe to be able to preach in my priesthood more than fifty retreats for children with no text before me. "
"In April 1949 I was appointed pastor of Fontenay-en-Parisis neighboring village Goussainville. Besides the church, there is no parish structure. Fortunately, as we are taught on the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, God's providence, "infallible in what it lays out". It has in fact guided all my life. An unoccupied gardener's house became the priory and a sister joined me to be my housekeeper. "
"In 1954, the bishop gave me a vicar to extend my support to four other parishes. From that time until 1992, I celebrated three Masses each Sunday. Two years later, as a result of health problems, I was sent to Richebourg, a village of 450 souls located just west of the diocese, near Houdan. I stayed until 1961. Richebourg, then this is the village of Thorez, Piaf, but also the Pompidou family that I counted among my parishioners. "
"In 1961, I made the great exercises of St. Ignatius (one month) and returning found in a letter from the bishop who appointed me pastor of Quincy-sous-Senart. Then came four years of penance if the Priory is in poor condition, the parish hall is brand new. But it's actually much more than a gym parish hall: there is no catechism taught but rather gymnastics seems the main activity the legacy of my predecessor. There are even exercise time during the Mass ... And 23 participants who are not parish members! "
It was during these years in Quincy-sous-Senart that abbe Lourdelet will be found- providentially of course! - Associated with the birth of Opus Sacerdotale [which will be discussed next week]. As of 4 August 1964, he became secretary of canon Catta." A very special secretary, he says with amusement, since I had no phone, no typewriter or car. "
"In May 1965 the project announced a new city and urban population explosion in the sector which made me express to my Bishop Renard, my attachment to a priesthood in rural areas. Thus I find myself almost to my starting point, again north of Paris, Belloy-en-France, which became my parish until 2004. "
When Father Lourdelet wins Belloy, the Diocese of Pontoise is not yet official but it is already written that it will be part of Belloy. This affiliation, in 1966, a diocese in construction, combined with the fact that this corner of Ile-de-France to escaped the devouring urbanization in the Paris region, will preserve the abbe Lourdelet from the conciliar tsunami.
During his 39 years at Belloy, Father will continue a more traditional ministry, based on the Mass, the sacraments and catechesis. In fact, throughout these years marked by rampant secularization of society, the parish will attract more and more people who have abandoned any religious practice for 10, 15 or 20 years, but recovering from abbe Lourdelet desire to sanctify the Lord's day. "You know, families do not hesitate to come every Sunday from Beauvais, a distance of over 50 km from Belloy," he says with a touch of disbelief in how older people recalling some fond memories their memory.
In 2004, at the age of 83 years, after 60 years of priesthood, Father Lourdelet takes his diocesan retirement but not without assuring his parishioners with clever connivance of the then Bishop Riocreux, doctrinal and liturgical continuity of the parish entrusted to Father Francis Scrive. This retirement led Abbe Lourdelet out of the Paris Basin, in a chapel nestled in the heart of Anjou forest. "It was perfect for a hermit's life, especially the bishop began by prohibiting me to celebrate the Holy Mass! "
Father Lourdelet not wait for the lifting fortunately, of this ban - which would be laughable if it were not scandalous in these times of a desert of worship campaigns - to open the doors of the chapel to the faithful around the area. Gradually, through word of mouth flow families across the region to the chapel, and some Sundays, Father will even harrow. As if that was not enough to occupy his retirement, Father willingly continues to preach retreats and recollections, especially at the request of Father Pozzetto, Director of retreats with the Fraternity of St. Peter.
In 2011, the 90 years old Father Lourdelet finally ceased all ministry to return to Versailles as a resident of a religious house. With an altar set up in the room adjacent to his office, he can continue to celebrate the daily Mass and pray he also devotes his time to much correspondence and recording of his memories. Again, initially, Chaplain Bishop had forbidden him to receive the faithful to the Mass - a decidedly Episcopal mania! In recent months, the bishop has however meant that he could accept a few close and, in fact, welcomed Father every day someone eager to hear his Mass, which was our case in early February.
The Next week we will publish the second part of this paper, we evoke, always through the testimony of Father Lourdelet, birth, history and action of "Opus Sacerdotale".
 The priestly life of Father Lourdelet is very rich and it is possible that this or that we report deserves correction or clarification:. We gladly publish reviews and testimonials that we receive
 Biner: say two Masses , that canon law allows, because of the shortage of priests. We can even "Triner" Sunday.