Podcast – Showing compassion and love for the poor

Francis kohn

Showing compassion and love for the poor


In the previous teaching, we see how the zeal for “the salvation of souls” animating Pierre Goursat, has its origins in adoration. I would like to show you now, how adoration is also the origin of his great compassion, charity, love for the poor, and all he concretely undertakes to aid people in difficulty.

Pierre’s heart was deeply bruised by different events occurring in his childhood: his parents separated, his father had psychological disorders, the untimely death of his younger brother, and his own illnesses and fragile health. Some of the wounds caused by these events remained active for the whole of Pierre’s life, but this being the case, they opened his heart to the suffering of others. As Pierre did not close his heart or consequently fold-in on himself, these traumas became the rich soil where compassion would seed itself and unfurl.

I will develop this subject in six points.


-1) Going from “affective” compassion to “effective” compassion

In English, as in other languages, the Latin root of the verb “sympathise” means “to suffer with”. Compassion has this capacity to let itself be moved, touched by the suffering of others, but it demands first of all a purification of the heart. Sensitivity and empathy are qualities which bring us closer to other people, but sentimentality poses an obstacle to exercising compassion because we are at risk of being submerged in our affectivity and emotions. Pierre insisted that we mustn’t stop at the level of our sentiments, at an “affective” compassion and all that it implies. But an “effective” compassion is one that pushes us to pray for people in difficulty and put into action everything needed to come to their aid concretely. He says compassion is in the first instance, a gift from God, given to us when we allow him to mould our heart through prayer:

It’s not philanthropy. It’s charity, something completely different, it’s really the love of the Lord! A heart seized with compassion is a gift. It’s the Lord who gives it to us because he is touched to see that we look after the poor, look after those who are suffering, those who are closest to his Heart”[1].


-2) Adoration opens our heart to compassion for all who are suffering

Pierre Goursat often tells us eucharistic adoration opens our heart to receive compassion: “In adoration, Jesus wants to give us the compassion of his Heart, the gentleness of his Heart”[2]. Contemplating Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament changes the way we see others and we become more inclined to love them. Pierre further states: “We come to adoration to be recharged, but afterwards we should abide in his love, our whole life, so that when we see our brothers and sisters, if we continue abiding in his love, we can receive them in his love”[3].

St. Paul writes: “For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all” (2 Cor. 5:14). Pierre insists, if we let the flame of charity catch fire in us, we find ourselves drawn to comfort those who suffer. He says: “When we adore, we place ourselves entirely in the arms of Jesus and ask him to open our heart. We’ll catch fire from love, and shine. And if we’re burning with love, whether it be from prayer of from accompanying those who are ill; because in both cases we burn with love; we’ll see Jesus everywhere we go”[4]. And he adds: “We’re in adoration; and in that moment, the Lord gives us compassion for all the suffering of the world”[5].

When we go through a dry period, or find it hard to adore, Pierre explains how showing compassion for the suffering of others can profoundly renew us, addressing the youth in the following way: “We are poor and cannot change our hearts by ourselves. But if we ask the Lord to change them -as only he is able to do this- little by little he will transform us, change us, until he puts an enormous love in our hearts”[6]. He also tells us: “When we start being seized with compassion in our heart, we transform, little by little. And there’s truly the power of the Lord present, the blessing of the Lord”[7]. Insisting: “When we are with the suffering Jesus, we suffer also! And then we don’t really feel dry anymore!”[8].

Prayer, far from distancing us from the world, brings us closer it to, because prayer opens our hearts to all human distress, as Pierre notices in 1981:

If you are in a period of dryness, a bit fed up and don’t know what to do, or if you’re annoyed and frustrated, well, dive into this compassion, into the Lord’s love […]. Because not only does this reflect on the state of your soul, but it orientates you towards those who are suffering and makes you say to yourself: “Well, I have to do something concrete to help my brothers and sisters”. So, [adoration] is not an escape [from reality]. It’s a commitment […]. Usually in adoration, our heart opens up and we experience compassion […]. We adore the Lord Jesus. And we must really believe in the true presence […] A presence which is so real and so concrete, because the Lord is incarnate, and he wants to stay with us […].

The Lord has compassion for all the suffering of the world and is with those who suffer greatly. He is so close to them that when we adore the Lord, we have the same compassion for suffering; both our own and the suffering of others […]. Our community is called ‘Emmanuel’: ‘God with us’ and we are with him. This is why, when we go about our services, whatever they might be, we can say: “Lord Jesus, I offer you this for the ill, for the tortured, for all who are despairing” […]. Pierre continues: “Following this, must come the practice of it because we are contemplative, but apostolic [also] […]. Time is ticking away, we must act ![9].

Charity towards your neighbour is as such, the first fruit of adoration. If it doesn’t draw us to love and concretely act in comforting those who suffer, it’s not real. It’s just a dream. Pierre says:

In prayer and adoration, we truly put on the Lord’s strength, but it must also lead us to serve our brothers and sisters[10].

He continues:

If we adore the Lord and yet do not produce the fruits of charity, it’s an adoration closed in on itself, it’s not a true adoration. Whereas when we come into contact with social destitution, with darkness, and we see brothers and sisters suffering, our heart is moved with deep and real compassion […]. Out of charity, [we]ask the Lord to come to their aid, praying so fervently, we start burning with love, and it’s in that moment we experience true charity”

Talking more specifically about the Emmanuel Community, Pierre adds:

“It’s a contemplative and spiritual grace born from adoration, born from the burning love of Jesus and our brothers and sisters, which pushes us into action through love for the Lord and our brothers and sisters […]. As Mother Teresa says, we take a time of adoration, but afterwards we don’t leave adoration for our brothers and sisters, we continue to adore Jesus in our brother or sister, or with them”[11].

Pierre made exhortations urging us to not be content with good feelings, but to put them into action: When we say we must love in act and in truth, it’s true. We can’t just stay at the same stage, saying “Lord, Lord!”, we have to act, loving through action, but also in truth; that’s what’s essential!”[12]. For Pierre it was about more than just words.


-3) Concrete charity in our daily lives

Pierre Goursat’s sense of charity was concrete, and expressed itself in daily life primarily through the caring attention he had for everyone he came across. From a very young age Pierre Goursat had always been attentive to others, caring for their wellbeing. His parents separated in 1923 and his father, Victor, suffered from a persecution complex so acute, that he refused to see those closest to him anymore, and would sleep with a revolver under his pillow out of fear they were going to come and kill him. As he didn’t have very much to live on, Pierre sent food to the housekeeper every week, to take up to his apartment, but his father thought he was trying to poison him and it was not met with a warm welcome.

After the war, Victor Goursat was evicted from his apartment, and the very next day found himself on the street. He had no fixed place to live in and experienced a great poverty. Members of the family would take him in from time-to-time but sometimes he would sleep as a homeless person, under the porches of buildings or in cars. He spent the last period of his life on a psychiatric ward, where Pierre regularly visited him. Here he looked after him a lot, helping him to experience reconciliation with God.

Despite his fragile heath, Pierre also helped his mother in running the family guesthouse whilst she was ill. He always took the time to listen to friends, supporting and comforting them when they faced difficulties or trials.

During his time of responsibility within the Emmanuel Community, Pierre Goursat always met people with an attitude of kindness. He freely gave of his time to each person. Those who knew him said: “With Pierre, you really felt like you existed. He truly loved people”; “You had the impression he loved each person individually” and again: “Pierre’s love was really a charitable love: you felt loved by him. When he spoke to you or listened to you, it was like you were the only person in the world”.

Pierre showed the same kindness to everyone and displayed interest in each person individually. He cared about offering guidance to people, helping them progress, and validating their worth. He was full of goodness, very welcoming towards all; particularly those who were more modest, not wanting anyone to feel side-lined. His was a tangible charity: those who worked on La Péniche found him encouraging. He would enquire about their families or the situations of loved ones who were ill.

Throughout the course of his life Pierre Goursat spoke with thousands of people, many of whom came to him with questions about their life or vocation. They came to him with hearts open wide, asking for his advice. Others were in great moral or physical distress. His delicacy of heart gave him insight on the sufferings and expectations of the people he met. He had the gift of listening to them and offering Just counsel. The charity in him made itself manifest through the way he was always available for people when they sought him out. Pierre listened with understanding and kindness, and then replied with his own point of view to help the person opposite him face things in truth. He did this with temperance, using simple and concrete statements.

Pierre was focussed on the lives of others; making sure a student’s room had heating, that she had a good blanket. A young girl had to visit her father after he was hospitalised during a community weekend. Pierre congratulated her for doing this. She tells us: “Such a brotherly attention, even when he had big responsibilities and there were so many of us, touched me deeply and gave me the strength to carry on with courage”.


-4) The institution of diverse works of compassion within the Community

Pierre’s compassion also shows itself through the different charitable initiatives he established within the Community, in order to come to the aid of a greater number of people. I will describe here, a few examples.

Visiting the sick and elderly in hospital

Pierre exclaimed one day: “Where can we meet Jesus? In the sick, because he says: “It’s to me that you have done it”. In that moment you’re so happy! We are sure to be living in truth! On the last day, we will be judged on how much we have loved”[13].

Pierre Goursat showed particular attention towards those who were sick during a certain period in his life, lasting several years, when he was ill and experiencing the difficult conditions and solitude that came with it. Pierre contracted tuberculosis at the age of 18 and was admitted several times to the sanatorium between 1950 and 1960. There, he would raise the morale of others who were ill, speaking to them about God. When he was moved to the room for those in their final days, he forced himself not to cough, so as not to disturb his neighbours. Later on, he went to visit those diagnosed with cancer at the hospital, not hesitating to travel long distances out of Paris to go and comfort them. He suggested that members of the Community visit the sick in certain hospitals too.

In 1978, the first team was created for a hospital in an impoverished suburb in the north of Paris, with a mandate of helping the hospital chaplain at Sevran. Every week, volunteers would have half an hour of praise and adoration in the hospital chapel, before going to visit the sick, and the many who were close to death. They prayed with them, bring communion to those who asked for it. Some people would ask to be baptised or make their First Holy Communion; others who had stopped practicing their faith asked for confession and to receive communion again.

In October 1981, another team was formed for weekly visits to the hospice in Nanterre (in west Paris), whose patients were impoverished or homeless, living on the margins of society. It was a real comfort for them, as most of them didn’t have any family. Some rediscovered their faith and, asking for the sacraments, started their journey in the Church. In 1984, the hospital chaplaincy of Sainte-Périne in Paris, whose patients were in palliative care, was entrusted entirely to the Emmanuel Community. Other visits were also happening in hospitals and retirement homes across Paris.

SOS-Prayer: A telephone line, open day and night, with someone to listen and pray

Pierre also had great compassion for those who were depressed or psychologically fragile. He spent his evenings speaking on the phone with anyone who urgently needed it. He listened to them, restoring their trust and courage. Through compassion and patience, he managed to save certain young people who had tried to end their life or were contemplating it.

In January 1979, after someone asked to meet with Pierre, Pierre carried in his prayers a project which involved establishing a place in Paris open to anyone who was having trouble talking about their problems. This person confided in Pierre that the previous November his brother had fallen gravely ill, dying three weeks later in atrocious pain. He voiced the idea, which had come to him following this painful experience, to create a telephone line, open 24/7 to listen to those who had no one to talk to, and to offer to pray for them. He put forward the name “SOS-Prayer” as a suggestion, taking it from the distress signal meaning “Save Our Souls”.

Pierre saw this as a sign from the Lord and within a few weeks had found an office and people committed to running SOS-Prayer, which was launched with a lot of publicity on March 14th 1979. That day, a big, private radio station which regularly announced news about the Emmanuel Community evangelising on the streets, revealed the telephone number for SOS-Prayer on-air, even though all the public radio stations were on strike! Numerous calls were received the same day, with the number increasing rapidly. Pierre Goursat was given permission from the archbishop of Paris to keep the Blessed Sacrament in a little chapel adjoining the office where “listeners” would receive calls from all over France and abroad. This meant they could entrust each of the difficult situations directly to the Lord. In 1980, one person was given charge of the service which had 40 volunteers from the Community forming an uninterrupted chain of listeners on the phone, present night and day. A lot of us did it after work, during the night, praying and taking phone calls. The number of calls rose quickly.

Other sites for SOS-Prayer were then opened elsewhere in France and in many other countries.


-5) Pierre Goursat is characterised by his love for the poor

Church tradition, and notably its Social Doctrine has always mentioned the important nature of the “Preferential option for the poor”, whose origins can be found in Scripture, in passages proclaiming the welcome and evangelisation of the poor as a sign of the Messianic era: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners… to comfort all who mourn” (Is. 61:1-2). This is the passage Jesus reads aloud in the synagogue at Nazareth, commenting on it: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk. 4:16-21).

We are reminded of the importance of welcoming the poor by the Second Vatican Council:

Christ was sent by the Father “to bring good news to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart”, (Lk. 4:18), “to seek and to save what was lost” (Lk. 19:10). Similarly, the Church encompasses with love all who are afflicted with human suffering and in the poor and afflicted sees the image of its poor and suffering Founder. It does all it can to relieve their need and in them it strives to serve Christ.” (Lumen gentium n ° 8).

Pierre Goursat had a great affinity for St. Vincent de Paul, who said to the Daughters of Charity: “God loves the poor, and as such, he loves those who love the poor”.

Pierre spoke to the prayer group leaders of the Renewal, evoking the prayer group based at l’Assomption in Paris, which had to be closed because it had folded in on itself and become stagnant. He told them: “To begin with we were saying: “We’ve never been welcomed like this before. There’s such a warmth and fraternity, it’s extraordinary!”. Yet little by little, the charity grew cold. And it’s exactly what the Lord tells us: “the love of many will grow cold.” (Mt. 24:12). It’s the lack of love. So if you really want your prayer group to work, deeply, you have to turn towards the poorest of the poor”.

Pierre continues to encourage them to open up to the poor, because for him it was criteria for discernment. He knew some people would be driven away by this approach, but it would attract others, who were perhaps more generous: I am now going to read a quote from Pierre who always seemed to be realistic yet humorous:

Be charitable to each other, turn towards those who are the most unhappy, the poorest, the needy and helpless. In this way you’ll be sure to have certain people who stop coming, but those who will follow you, will be the ones who truly trust in the love of God. So there’ll be a big sorting in the group. Those who think only about themselves, about their relationships, or having power, won’t come anymore if it’s to look after lepers and the homeless.  They’re not up to it. Those who will keep coming will be the ones who surely love the Lord. And with them you’ll recognise each other, little by little you’ll love each other and then a community and spiritual union will grow up around you![14].

Pierre shows us here it’s through tangible charity in service of the poor that a Christian community is born and can really grow strong.

Pierre Goursat had a preferential love for the “wounded in life”, the helpless, whom he loved dearly. I will now give you several concrete examples of this.

-Welcoming the homeless: During his professional life, Pierre used to take in homeless people, who would otherwise be sleeping on the street, to sleep in his apartment. In 1974, the early days of the Renewal, Pierre lived in a residential household of the community in the presbytery of the Church at Gentilly. A Community brother was very touched to see Pierre come home one evening with a homeless person to give him somewhere to sleep for the night; Pierre in one hand, a bottle of wine in the other. When possible, Pierre participated in the “Boutique verte” a little prayer group near the Church Saint-Séverin in Paris, which welcomed homeless persons once a week. He listened to them, comforted them and showed them great esteem. He was at ease with those living on the margins of society; when he met someone he would stop, comfort them, talk to them about the Lord, give them some money or buy them something to eat.

La Péniche: Pierre Goursat originally bought La Péniche with the idea of creating a welcome centre for the prevention of drugs.  There were two young ladies, Bernadette and Martine who lived in sparse living conditions with no water, electricity or heating, and who participated in the Emmanuel prayer groups between the years 1973 and 1975. They spoke with Pierre Goursat, offering to take in the poor and homeless. Following this proposition, Pierre sought to renovate La Péniche as lodgings and a place to work but ended up being completely absorbed by the developing Community in its early stages.

In May 1976, a young man named Jean-Francois turned up unexpectedly at the residential household where Pierre Goursat lived on rue Gay-Lussac. He had experienced very recently a conversation at the basilica of Notre-Dames des Victoires, and Pierre listened to him speak for several hours. As he had no where to live, Pierre gave up his own bed for him to sleep in, whilst Pierre slept on a mattress on the floor. A few months later, Pierre entrusted him with the renovation of La Péniche, along with several other men living on the margins of society. For two years, Pierre accompanied this team of ‘misfits’, all whilst managing the Community. He calmed the unpredictable wildness of these young men, diffused tensions and took decisions concerning the work on the boat, with authority.

Pierre finally moved-in to La Péniche in 1978, with Hervé-Marie, Martine Catta, Charles-Eric Haugel and myself. Having worked directly with Pierre, I can testify that the door to his office was always open. One brother said: “There could be twenty people queuing outside his door, ‘very important’ people even, but if a poor person arrived, he went in front of everyone else”. If a poor person or a young person in distress turned up unexpectedly, Pierre stopped everything he was doing to receive them; he wouldn’t hesitate in instantly suspending a work meeting or putting-off an important appointment. He spent a lot of time with them, patiently listening to them, comforting them and finding concrete solutions to help them (lodgings, work).

– “The Ark of the Dove”: Pierre had the longstanding idea of creating a welcome centre for young men in difficulty. He was offered a house in the countryside 70 km outside Paris called “The Ark of the Dove” and in September 1979 Pierre transferred responsibility of the house to me. Young men were received there: some had experienced disturbed childhoods, others had been marginalised, turning to delinquency and drugs, other had done time in prison, or suffered prostitution. To help their reintegration into society, daily life in the house was structured by fraternity, work, prayer and clear rules. When I decided to enter seminary in October, Guy de Kerimel succeeded my position and the project was transferred to another house. After one year, Guy entered seminary also and so Robert and Evelyne Bescond took over this mission, which was so dear to Pierre’s heart. He would often ask after those living there, and personally accompanied several of them.

-During prayer group meetings, Pierre was often to be found at the back of the room talking with people, especially the marginalised. In this way he received people who had done time in prison, for example the “little rogue, a gangster without faith or rules” he helped have a conversion and who began attending the prayer assembly. Or another time, a procurer trapped in organised crime.

Pierre once met a violent gangster who was now living on the streets. He would come back often to see Pierre and confide in him: “Pierre was the only person who made him feel truly loved”, said one of the first priests ordained into the Community. He added: “[This man] always found Pierre welcoming, understanding and loving, he was assured of his fraternal help and the way Pierre never grew weary of giving it”. Concluding: “Here I could really see Pierre’s charity transforming hearts”. I could give you so many other examples that show Pierre Goursat prioritising charitable acts, welcoming the poor and the destitute.


-6) Pierre Goursat lived simply and with great generosity

Pierre had almost no belongings, keeping to a strict minimum. He only had a meagre pension to support himself. The older he got, the more he sought to make himself poorer, stripping away what little he did have, until he died with almost absolutely nothing. A community brother who was the then community accountant noted:

“What belongings did Pierre leave behind? He had one suitcase, two old books and that was it! It was a true example of poverty! And when you think, he was the founder of a community like Emmanuel, it’s hard to imagine a greater material detachment!”.

Pierre says:

If we live in poverty we identify with [the poor], which is necessary in a world where we no longer know who the poor are”[15].

So many people have been touched by Pierre’s testimony of poverty. Members of the Community said: “I was very moved by his life of poverty, the total stripping away of everything material”, “Pierre was the model of poverty for me. He gave everything away and had nothing for himself”, “this is what Pierre’s life was: marked by poverty, material renouncement, detachment”. Basilissa, from Rwanda and consecrated to the celibate life within the Community noticed this about Pierre: “What stayed with me was his need to be poor, to not be attached to material goods […]. He wanted us to lead a poor life. He insisted on poverty; it was dear to his heart”.

Piranglo, an evangelical from the travelling community, was also very touched by Pierre’s simple way of life and his desire not to “settle” into comfort. It’s what inspired him to join the Emmanuel Community, along with other travellers. He explained: “Personally, I was really struck by the way he insisted on not getting attached to objects or places; I was struck by the way he was detached from material things […]. In Pierre Goursat we encountered a meeting place between the nomadic world and the sedentary world. And I think it’s due to his poverty, his humility and his material renouncement that it stuck with all the travelling family.”

Pierre Goursat’s poverty is the fruit of his charity and his generosity. He chose to live poorly. He was totally detached from his material goods. He lived in poverty and deprivation simply because he chose to give everything away, even what little he had. He was always extremely generous, not wanting to keep anything for himself. If we gave him scarves or clothes as a present, because he often felt the cold, he gave them away to others who were in greater need of them. Pierre Goursat manifested this generosity his whole life. When managing the family guesthouse, he sent several cheques to the brother of a woman who kept a room there, as he had very little to live on. In the 1950s, Pierre lived in the presbytery of Saint Philippe du Roule. One day he was visited by a cousin who later entered religious life. She looked after poor families who lived in difficulty, but she didn’t know how to help a craftsman who urgently needed to repay a debt. She spoke about it to Pierre who instantly gave her an important sum of money. She was very grateful to him, and said: “You could tell he wore his heart on his sleeve, ready to sympathise with impoverished people”. Even though during that period of his life, as with the following, Pierre Goursat wasn’t at all “rolling in it”, as we might say.

In 1966, Pierre asked members of his family that the remaining inheritance from his Uncle Sem, who died very rich, be donated to the monasteries where many of his cousins had entered religious life. After he stopped work in the cinematic world in 1970, he continued to help numerous people in need, even though what he had didn’t amount to very much.

Pierre trusted greatly in Divine Providence, never wanting to save money in his personal bank account, nor wanting the Emmanuel Community to keep reserves either. In 1978, the Community’s account registered a large profit for that year. The brother looking after the finances of the Community thought it would be prudent to keep the money as working capital for the numerous activities of the Community. However, animated by a desire of abandonment to the will of God, and through a spirit of compassion, Pierre requested the funds be transferred in their entirety to a foundation which had just been started, a new community dedicated to the care of people needing mental health support. Seeing the accountant’s surprise, Pierre simply replied: “The Lord is asking us to do this, if we need any money, he’ll give us some”.

The material poverty which Pierre lived in, was both the expression of and fruit of his poverty of heart and interior detachment (see teaching on humility), because he radically lived the Gospel message and these words from St. Paul:

For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9).

It’s exactly what Pierre Goursat explains in 1976, when addressing the subject of the vocation of the Community:

“It’s truly the grace of the Emmanuel, him who was born in a stable, small, humble; he asks us to detach ourselves from everything, to live the same poverty. Once we’re poor in everything we’ll be rich uniquely in him, and then we’ll have everything”[16].

Of course, it was a personal choice of Pierre’s to live this radical poverty, and he never demanded it of community members, because we are not monks or nuns. He was however, always asking us to live simply, which is different, to let our life be marked by it; in what we eat, how we dress, our hobbies, revealing that we choose Christ. Pierre’s example is beautiful because it reveals his humility and I strongly believe it marks the charism of the Community as it was received by him from the Lord. But I’ll reiterate that Pierre never asked us to give away all our belongings, and being conscious that members of the Community were for the most part lay people and families, he never wanted us to share our goods in a common life, he avoided this structure out of prudence, which was not the case with other communities. If we are called to generous, it is by tithing money to support works of the Community, supporting those who are destitute, giving to the Church, and not by sharing our goods in common within the Community. This is not what Pierre wished for the Community because he was realistic and knew that the poverty the Lord was asking of him personally, was not applicable to everyone.

To conclude this teaching and draw a thread from what I have developed in the previous teachings, I want to call your attention to these three words: “adoration, compassion and evangelisation”, which Pierre used, to define the vocation of the Community. They constitute three steps which are born from the same and unique movement, as I have tried to show you.

Pierre Goursat writes: “Adoration, source of compassion, pushes us towards evangelisation. Jesus, after letting us see the suffering in his Heart, broken by the sin and indifference of man, asks us to announce him to everyone, by using the means he shows us, and out of a desire that every person returns to Him”[17]. To help us understand how these three steps are intimately linked, he says again: “After this adoration, we now have compassion. And we can say to the Lord: “You have to open my heart!” […]. And little by little we are transformed. But then, we must go from corporal compassion to spiritual compassion.” This is another distinction Pierre makes: corporal compassion is compassion which translates into tangible acts of charity, helping people with the concrete aspects of their lives; whilst spiritual compassion is specifically to help people in terms of their soul. Pierre says this: “We might find ourselves saying: “Lord, this person’s ill. I really must look after him. But then look at all the people in town who don’t know you! Who carry on their lives without knowing you.” And with this we feel pushed to announce the name of Jesus”[18]. Here Pierre shows us the profound link between the three words, which are not at all a slogan but something far deeper, it’s what he lived: adoration, compassion, evangelisation.

I could resume it again, slightly differently this time.

Adoration is the source of the salvation of souls and generates compassion, which draws us to come to the aid of those who suffer and stay close to the poor. Charity burning in our heart prompts us to announce the Good News of salvation, to everyone. We read in the Gospels: “As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. (Mk. 6:34). This verse from St. Mark’s Gospel, underlines the fact that for Jesus, teaching and announcing the Good News, is a direct consequence of his compassion for the crowds. Resembling Christ, it was impossible for Pierre show indifference to people who had not been guided or enlightened and wandered about, thirsting for meaning in their lives.

The ardent charity which burned in Pierre Goursat’s heart his whole life, was the origin and the ‘motor’ of his missionary zeal. This will be the theme of our next teaching.



[1] Workshop « From prayer group to the Community », session at Paray-le-Monial, 5th July 1979.

[2] Preparatory notes for a teaching, 24th June 1980.

[3] Retreat with the Fraternity of Jesus at Paray-le-Monial, 31st December 1979.

[4] Meeting with the Fraternity of Jesus, 25th June 1977.

[5] Teaching for a Community weekend in Touraine, 19th November 1988.

[6] Teaching for the youth, late 1981.

[7] Retreat with the Fraternity of Jesus at Paray-le-Monial, August 1979.

[8] Teaching at Paray-le-Monial during a retreat with the Fraternity of Jesus, August 1978.

[9] Teaching for a Community weekend, 21st June 1981.

[10]Meeting with the Fraternity of Jesus, 25th June 1977.

[11] Retreat with the Fraternity of Jesus at Paray-le-Monial, December 1980.

[12] Retreat with the Fraternity of Jesus at Paray-le-Monial, August 1979.

[13] Workshop « From prayer group to the Community », session at Paray-le-Monial, 5th July 1979.

[14] Workshop « From prayer group to the Community », session at Paray-le-Monial, 5th July 1979.

[15] Meeting for the consecrated of the Emmanuel Community, 2nd December 1985.

[16] Day for the prayer assemblies of Paris, 13th March 1976.

[17] Preparatory notes for a teaching, 24th June 1980.

[18] Workshop « From prayer group to the Community », session at Paray-le-Monial, 5th July 1979.