Impressive commemorative celebrations on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the passing of Fr. Franz Stock took place in Paris and Chartres on Febr. 24, 2008. Over 150 people, mostly from Stock’s birthplace in Arnsberg, Germany participated in the celebrations. They were joined by some 70 youths.
One day prior to this anniversary there was a solemnity held on Mont Valérien in the Parisian suburb Suresnes. President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Rüttgers from Düsseldorf together with French ministers and many persons of the public life commemorated the 4,500 members of the Résistance and hostages executed in the years 1940 – 1944 by the German occupants at the place of execution.
In their speeches both pointed out the extraordinary works of Franz Stock as a prison pastor and as a spiritual companion to the people sentenced to death. Stock accompanied almost 2000 of them on their last journey to this place. In the hell of human cruelty, his works were marked by true humanity, brotherhood, friendship, the longing for peace, trust and reconciliation.
Looking into the future they appealed to all present, in particular to the many youths, to contradict barbarism, bondage and inhumanity (as Franz Stock did) so that Europe and the world can live in peace and freedom. On the anniversary of Stock’s passing, Prime Minister Rüttgers and his delegation travelled to Chartres placing a wreath on the tomb of Franz Stock in the church Saint Jean-Baptiste in the district of Rechèvres. Afterwards he viewed the mural paintings with scenes of Franz Stock’s life.
The Pontifical Mass in the Cathedral of Chartres, where every seat was taken, can be considered as a special highlight commemorating the 60th anniversary of Stock’s passing.
In the presence of Prime Minister Rüttgers and many other German and French political and society celebrities Bishop of Chartres Pansard together with the Apostolic Nuntio Monseigneur Bardelli and the Archbishop of Paderborn Becker celebrated this solemn Mass. Bishop Pansard preached on the daily gospel, where Jesus met the Samarian woman. He spoke of the hostilities between Jews and Samaritans at the time and made the point that we can conquer these separations with God with the Divine Command of “Love Thy Neighbor”. Franz Stock, taking Christ’s example, became a tireless pioneer serving truth, reconciliation and brotherhood.
After the Pontifical Mass there was a large gathering in the hall of the former “Barbed Wire Seminar”. About 300 Frenchmen and Germans gathered inside the hall, which at present is being transformed into a “European Meeting Place Franz Stock” („Centre Européen de Rencontre Franz Stock“), for a simple lunch, in remembrance of the meagre times of 1945 – 1947. The lunch consisted merely of a soup (which, however, was a little richer today). Following lunch there was a discussion between Prime Minister Rüttgers, Archbishop Becker and the historical witnesses Helga Walbaum and Dieter Lanz , on one side , as well as 70 students of the Franz-Stock Secondary School and of the St. Ursula Secondary School at Arnsberg-Neheim and 20 French youths on the other side. Their motto was “What did Franz Stock achieve and what can we do in his memory?”
In his statement Prime Minister Rüttgers talked about his personal experiences 40 years ago as an exchange student in France. Archbishop Becker, on the other hand, discussed the word of the Apostolic Nuntio (in Germany) Roncalli, the later Pope John XXIII, who said that Franz Stock is not a name but a programme, defining “programme” as charity and brotherhood. Mrs. Walbaum reported how her family left Germany in 1938 for political reasons and how she met Franz Stock in Paris, where he liberated her father from the hands of the Nazi bloodhounds and thus saved him from death. As a former seminarist Mr. Lanz described life in the „Barbed Wire Seminary“. In their comments and questions the students considered the possibilities improving the contacts with France and other institutions in order to engage themselves towards reconciliation and the creation of peace.
At the end of this commemoration a powerful celebration with prayers and meditative words took place, as well as a candlelight procession to the tomb of Franz Stock.
* Presseinformation zur Gedenkfeier am Mont Valerien mit allen Reden und verlesenen Texten
* Rede des Präsidenten der Französischen Republik Nicolas Sarkozy am 23.02.2008
* Grußwort von Ministerpräsident Dr. Jürgen Rüttgers am 23.02.2008
* Predigt von Bischof Michel Pansard vom 24.02.2008 deutsche Fassung / französische Fassung
* Radio Vatikan 25.02.2008
* Himmel und Erde / Kath. Kirche im Privatfunk 24.02.2008
* Aktuelle Stunde vom 23.02.2008 - (bitte Beitrag Rüttgers bei Sarkozy auswahlen)
* WDR 5-Morgenecho 25.02.2008
* Information der Staatskanzlei NRW
* Vorbericht zur Gedenkfeier am Mont Valerien 23.02.2008
* Vorbericht zu den Veranstaltungen in Chartres am 24.02.2008
* Informationen zur Reisegruppe des Franz-Stock-Komitees
* Nachruf auf Franz Stock von Joseph Folliet (verlesen am 24.02. in Rechèvre)