The Society of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers)
(En français)



The White Father's community was founded in 1994 in the 15th district of Marseille in the very north of the city. We live in a parish that has, at least, 30,000 people from differing religious beliefs and from European, African and Asiatic backgrounds.

The foundation of this community was the result of two converging strands of reflection. The Synod of Marseille in 1991 saw that there were a large number of migrants from all sorts of religious and cultural backgrounds in the Diocese and the Missionaries of Africa, at it's General Chapter, in 1992 decided to start a missionary project, that would reach out to Muslims and Africans living in the western world. The French Province, in line with the directives of the Chapter of 1992, proposed a missionary project that would aim at encountering Muslim and African migrants. This initiative was confirmed at the Chapter of 2010 which insisted on maintaining the presence of missionary projects in the European Province.

The commitments of the confreres are varied, in function of their past experience, the local circumstances, and out of a sense of solidarity to live with the diocese. These commitments cover 5 hubs:

1 - Pastoral work with migrants and people from an immigration background.

A confrere is a member of the Diocesan Commission for Migrants and is involved with caring for the African Christian community.
Two confreres give literacy courses in the housing estates and in the offices of letter writers. They deal mainly with foreigners.
One confrere takes part in the activities of E.M.E. which deals with the welcome and care for foreign students.

2 - Pastoral work concerned with relations with Islam. This work aims at:

a) Making Christians aware of the nature of Islam so as to facilitate community living. A confrere helps groups as required and gives seminars at ISTR as well as a radio programme. This confrere is the Diocesan delegate for relations with Islam. He gives a series of courses at Notre Dame de Vie as well as workshops.
b) To meet with Islamic believers through local associations, by a variety of invitations, by a presence in the housing estates and helping those in 'mixed' marriages.
c) To organise meetings between clergy and imams about every two months on a religious topic. These meetings facilitate the creation of friendships and lead to a better mutual understanding
d) To be involved at the Institute Catholique de Lyon in research on Islam

3 - Parish Work with the faithful from differing ethnic origins

There are about 200 faithful who meet in the two churches in the area: St. Anthony and Notre-Dame Limite (because it was at the end of town). A confrere is the Parish Priest and he coordinates the catechetics, and officiates at the occasional baptisms, marriages, and funerals. He visits families particularly those who are sick and lonely.

Each of the other confreres takes his turn for the Sunday services and looks after a biblical group. In all this, each one helps this little community to be open to one another. Every fortnight a mass is celebrated in one of the housing estates.

4 - Ecumenical Work

A confrere prepares programmes for Radio-Dialogue (An ecumenical radio station in Marseille) and some of these programmes are taken up by other radio stations for broadcasting in French speaking Africa.

A confrere is, also, involved in a biblical group which unites Catholics and Protestants from the Reformed Church of France. Each year, this same group prepares an ecumenical service.

5 - Involvement in the Diocese

We are well integrated into the diocesan structures (Council of Priests) and we are actively involved in the diocesan commissions such those for Islam, Migrants, missionary cooperation as well as various institutions such as I.C.M., Chemins de Dialogue.

At the moment, our community is made up of

Fr Jacques Lacour

Fr. Etienne Renaud

Fr. Jean François Galtier

Parish Priest

Father Etienne passed away on the 20th June 2013

Our house

Translated into English by Ian Buckmaster M.Afr.