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May 22, 2020

GILLET Jean (Father)

Capbreton, 1st April 1922 - 3 September 2019 (France)

Fr Jean Gillet SCJ

Early on the night of September 2/3, Fr. Jean Gillet passed away in a nursing home by the birth place of Saint Vincent de Paul. He entered there last spring after the closure of the nearby St. John Care Home in Buglose where he had been resident for nearly ten years. At the age of 97, he was the oldest priest residing in the diocese of Dax.

He was born on April 1 1922 at Capbreton in the Landes region of France. He made his first profession at Balarin and his final profession in Limoges at Ozanam College. He was ordained a Priest on June 2 1949 in Bordeaux.

Why and how did he become a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Bétharram?

Perhaps simply because, as the third vocation in the family, he followed his elders, who had also become “Betharramites”... They too passed away not so long ago... Nevertheless, he led his religious life as a teacher for 27 years and, since 1976, served our diocese for 28 years. Although he returned to his congregation, and to Bétharram at the time of his retirement in 2004, he soon asked to return to the Landes in 2006.

Fr. Jean could sometimes seem austere, reserved and even severe. But if we talked about rugby, another face, more luminous and talkative, would light up. He was first a player, then a referee, and then a Supporters Tour Operator, especially in Ireland in the season of the great international matches, He knew how to share his passion and, it seems, did not neglect the “third half” (post-match festivities...). Who would have believed it?...

No doubt the lasting memory of him will be that of the servant of Our Lady, at the shrine of Buglose. During his time there he served in the confessional, played the Great Organ as long as he was able to climb the narrow spiral staircase. Later he reverted to the choir organ, more accessible at his great age. He played practically to the end, even when his fingers were painful with rheumatism. Sometimes wrong notes resulted (by the score!) causing loud grunts and grimaces on his serious face, visibly upset by such mistakes... His fidelity and availability deserve a salute and a true thank you.

Now he has reached the Father’s House. The Bishop presided at his funeral in the chapel of the birthplace of St Vincent de Paul, Friday, September 6, at 10 a.m. Our brother was then transported in the afternoon to the cemetery of the Congregation at the calvary of Bétharram. May he rest in peace!

From the testimony of Fr. HAYET,
Chancellor at Bishop House Dax

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