At Age 66, a Newly Ordained Priest
Interview with Father Patrick de Laubier
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Among the 34 priests whom John Paul II ordained was Patrick de Laubier, a 66-year-old French sociologist and professor at Geneva University.
Father de Laubier regards this decisive step in his life as the "nuptials" so often mentioned in the Bible and referred to by mystics: The Church, the community, is the Bride of Christ, and the priest, acting in the liturgy "in persona Christi," represents the Spouse.
--Q: How did you hear the call to consecrate yourself to God?
--Father de Laubier: I consecrated myself to God in celibacy at 17 years [of age] in Jerusalem. I handed my act of consecration, around 5 o´clock in the morning in the Holy Sepulcher, to a priest who didn´t know me! I wanted to be consecrated in celibacy in the world. St. Teresa of Avila´s autobiography made me understand the importance of prayer. For a year, in my home, with my family, I began an almost eremitical life.
Then I did my military service: 27 months in Algeria. When I returned to France I presented a thesis in political science working in Philips. I then spent a year at Harvard, and so arrived at the International Labor Office in Geneva. Then I went on to teach sociology and the sociology of religions at Geneva University. I retired last year.
--Q: How did you receive your call to the priesthood?
--Father de Laubier: In August of 1998 in Moscow, the idea of being a priest became obvious to me. So I began to study for a licentiate in theology at Fribourg, while I continued to give classes in Geneva. I did a comparative study on Russia, in particular, on relations between Rome and Moscow, over the first 15 years of the 20th century and the last 15 years of that same century, that is, not including the Communist period.
--Q: Why are you incardinated in the Diocese of Rome?
--Father de Laubier: I have been part of the Vladimir Soloviev Association since 1991. We wrote the Pope in 1993 and, since then, we have met with him on six occasions. In addition, I was a lay member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. I was able to speak in Rome about my call to the priesthood with Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope´s vicar for that diocese. I have been ordained by the Diocese of Rome as missionary in Geneva.
--Q: To be a missionary today means to witness to the Gospel. What does this mean to you?
--Father de Laubier: I have traveled over the world for the purpose of giving witness. Not too long ago, I was able to meet with seminarians in Shanghai, who pray the rosary every night for the Pope. They gave me a small Chinese statue of the Virgin Mary for him. The Pope asked me to give them his blessing when I see them again. Now Monsignor Jin, the Patriotic bishop of Shanghai, has sent me his congratulations on my ordination.
--Q: You have just published a book in which you speak about the Church in Ukraine. Are you optimistic about the Pope´s forthcoming visit to that country?
--Father de Laubier: Yes, I think that relations with Moscow will benefit. Ukraine will serve [the cause of] unity.