Père Pierre Ceyrac (1914)


"One should dare to dream" , Father Ceyrac says. Great men are those who have visions and dreams. Then, love is all you need to fulfill these dreams and keep them alive.

Father Ceyrac is a French Jesuit Missionary who has been devoted to India for more than 60 years on behalf of children and of the excluded of Indian society. By fighting "not for the human rights but for the right to be human", Pierre Ceyrac contributed to the evolution of Indian society during the last decades and set himself up as a real peacemaker.

Love has always been source and criteria of all his choices in life; it is under this point of view that the course and the deeds of Father Ceyrac have to be approached. In 1936, Pierre, at 22 years-old made the decision to leave for India as a missionary whereas he is a young scholastic Jesuit among the Company of Jesus. He left France and Corrèze, his home base, thinking that he would never come back.

There, he got initiated to Indian cultures and religions, which are as many "paths towards God", according to him. Graduated in Tamil and in Sanskrit, he became priest in 1945 and soon after was named national almoner of a catholic student movement in the Indian universities. After some years, the consciousness came to him that "one cannot philosophy in university while people are dying from hunger just beside it".

Father Ceyrac needs action. "In the fights in my life, I have always watched never to sever the fight for faith from the fight for justice and for the poor. Otherwise, the deeds deny the faith and the faith is sterile." Ever since, following the steps of Mahatma Gandhi, whom he knew well, he exposes the cast system and demonstrates in favour of integration of the Dalits (the Untouchables). Under his impulse, a large net of over 100 000 Indian students is born to set up humanitarian works such as building houses and villages for the poor and the leprous living on the Madras pavements. To face water shortage in the country, Father Ceyrac launches the "Thousand wells" operation in South India, first steps of the project "STAND UP AND WALK". And as to establish that "where intelligence cannot get access, only love can lead to the key of success", Father Ceyrac and his friends build a "MODEL FARM" on a very arid land and take up the incredible challenge of growing coconut trees on it. This fertile desert situated in Manamadurai (South of Madurai, Tamil Nadu) will enable over 250 000 people to live on and will become the best guava producer farm in the area.
Like Mother Térésa with whom he worked, Father Ceyrac gives beyond any limit. According to him, love is giving oneself with great respect to the others up to give one's own life. It is also to be tender; the poorest is the one we love, the more we have to give him tenderness. Finally, love is to think of us and not of them: one has to trust and to empower the other till the end.
From his own experience, Father Ceyrac knows that giving to others allows us to build up ourselves and thus to know the true joy. This Love of the Other, burning in himself as a firebush, was keeping on irradiating when in the 80's mass Cambodian refugees arrived at the Thai border. Because he was solicited to take charge of a team of volunteers, Father Ceyrac has shared the life of thousands of people in the refugee camps in Thailand, Cambodia, and Zambia for 13 years. Since then, back in India, this man "for the others" built a centre for the surgery of the Poliomyelitis children, unique in South India, with the energy and the expectations of the ones who could dream with him. With them, he also built a study centre for the children of prisoners (
SEED). He set up a training centre for Dalit people (DACA) to give them graduation and to teach them a craft. And lastly, he created a huge foster net, as big loving hands or "OPEN HANDS" to more than 30 000 children in the streets.
Pierre Ceyrac has built some life lessons at the contact of untouchables, poor, children, refugees and leprous. He is now a prophet of our time who, at the age of 87, claims "to be doing overtime to learn how to love".

Author : Pascale (Fraternet.com)


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