On the 2nd of June, 2021, the Memorial to Fr Jacques was inaugurated in the Avon monastery (Paris, France). The day began with Mass, at which presided Monsignor Nahmias, Bishop of Meaux. Also present were our Father General and Monsignor Follo, permanent observer of the Holy See at UNESCO.
Afterwards, an outdoor meal was shared in the monastery gardens. It was a time of sharing and conviviality. There were around one hundred people representing all the “nuances” of Father Jacques: Carmel with its friars, nuns, members of the Secular Carmel and the Carmelite family; the Jewish world through various associations (Yad Vashem, Holocaust Memorial), the local Jewish community and a representative of the Embassy of Israel; the political world with the Mayor, his Deptuty. Senator Ouzoulias, whose grandfather came to meet Father Jacques about the Resistance, and other officers; Father Jacques’ family, descendants of people who knew him well, former students of the Petit Collège; people from the worlds of education, the local military and civil society.
At the cemetery of the Avon monastery, where Father Jacques is buried, the Father Provincial, Christophe-Marie Baudouin, gave a welcome speech to the 150 people present. There was the laying of a wreath of flowers from the town hall and a moment of recollection accompanied by the musical group NoteSolidaires. Then, in the courtyard of the monastery, the Mayor of Avon, the representative of the Embassy of Israel, the representative of Yad Vashem, as well as a former student of the Petit Collège of Avon, who was present on the day of the arrest of Father Jacques and the three Jewish children (January 15, 1944), each took turn in speaking. Finally, our Father General cut the ribbon to signify the official opening of the Memorial. The first visits could then begin while an honorable wine was served for all participants.
The Memorial is open during the week, with free access, from 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Father Jacques de Jésus (1900–1945) joined the Discalced Carmelites in 1931. In 1934, he founded the Petit-Collège Sainte-Thérèse de l’Enfant-Jésus in Avon. There he implemented modern and innovative teaching methods based on children’s trust and responsibility. Involved in the Resistance against the Nazis, he made the Petit-Collège a place of welcome and transit for Resistance fighters and Jews. In February 1943, he welcomed three Jewish children to the school. After a complaint, the Gestapo invaded the school on January 15, 1944. The three children and Father Jacques were arrested. The children died in Auschwitz. Father Jacques was deported to Mauthausen-Gusen in Austria. When the Americans liberated the camp, he was elected as a representative of the International Committee of Deportees. Exhausted, he died on June 2, 1945. He is one of the Righteous of Nations and his cause of beatification has been introduced.