To Be the Face of the Church: A Panel Discussion on Charles de Foucauld

To be the Church is to render visible the tenderness of God for all. . . . We are called by God to be the “face” of the Church for all those with whom we come into contact.

Brother Charles de Foucauld Lay Fraternity: The Little Guide (Sect. 5.13, “The Fraternity – A Cell of the Church”)

My apostolate must be the apostolate of goodness. In seeing me, people should be able to say to one another, “Since this man is so good, his religion must be good.”

– Charles de Foucauld, 1909

Our special thanks to Rosemary Peters-Hill, Dr. Ciriaco Piccirillo, and Rev. Leonard J. Tighe for joining us on September 18, 2023, to discuss the life, witness, and spiritual communities of St. Charles de Foucauld (1858–1916). The panelists shared their personal encounters with “Brother Charles,” illuminated his conception of the “hidden life” of Nazareth and universal brother- and sisterhood, and looked at the history, structure, and function of the Foucauld lay fraternities. Panelists also shared how Foucauld’s practices of hospitality and interreligious dialogue can help shape a synodal, “listening” church for today.

Biographical outline of Charles de Foucauld (thanks to Rosemary Peters-Hill)

Prayer of Abandonment of Charles de Foucauld

Brother to All: The Life and Witness of Saint Charles de Foucauld by Joseph Victor Edwin, SJ, and Charles de Foucauld: Selected Writings, edited by Robert Ellsberg (Enter code CDF23 at checkout to receive a 30% discount—thanks again to Orbis Books)

Rosemary Peters-Hill is a former Fulbright scholar and the Albert and Angelle Arnaud Professor in French Heritage at Louisiana State University. Her primary area is the 19th-century novel, with a secondary specialization in the 16th century. In addition, she studies pre-colonial and colonial North Africa. Her most recent book offers the first complete translation and critical edition of Charles de Foucauld’s account of his Moroccan explorations prior to his religious conversion, Reconnaissance au Maroc, 1883–1884 (New York: Anthem Press, 2020; currently available through Cambridge University Press).

Dr. Ciriaco Piccirillo is the principal investigator at the Piccirillo Laboratory, affiliated with McGill University in Montreal, Canada. His research specializes in the regulation of immune responses mediated by Foxp3+ regulatory T cells. In addition to his work as a researcher, Dr. Piccirillo is active in the lay fraternities of Charles de Foucauld.

Rev. Leonard J. Tighe has been living, promoting, serving, and sharing Charles de Foucauld’s radical message of gospel simplicity for over 50 years. He is the editor of St. Charles de Foucauld Meditates on the Psalms (trans. Katherine Fairbanks, 2022), for which he also wrote an introduction. He maintains the Legacy of Charles de Foucauld Website and the Saint Charles de Foucauld public Facebook page.

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