Interview with His Eminence Primate Raphael Marie Villiere

  • 1. When did your spiritual journey began? Please describe.

My spiritual journey began when I was a child around the age of 8. At that time, with my reactions as a child, I wanted to be a priest because I found the priestly habit beautiful. Since my father had a small farm, I enjoyed saying Mass in the barn. Then as I grew up, as a teenager, the idea came to me. This idea came back when I was 20 years old, where I had my first spiritual experiences. But the most important one was the first time I went to Paris, to Rue du Bac, to the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal, where in this place apparitions of the Virgin Mary had taken place to St. Catherine Labourré, in 1830. When I discovered this place, I was overwhelmed with great peace, and after the Mass, in a deep moment of recollection, I felt physically on my tongue that something was lying and moving. At that moment I understood that Christ Jesus was truly in Spirit and Truth in the Eucharist.

  • 2. How did you happen to hear about The Anglocatholic Church ?

I heard about the Anglocatholic Church in 2017 from Bishop Léonid, who lived near Caen at the time. Moreover, one Thursday, July 20, 2017, if I remember correctly, he had organized an “inter-Churches” synod. It was on that occasion that I met His Beatitude Heigo Ritsbek, who had been elected Patriarch. That same Thursday evening, there was a service in the Chapel of Mary Mediatrix, and the Patriarch, after the Mass, suggested that I join the Anglocatholic Church. After consulting the people who attend our Chapel, and the few clergy who depend on us, I gave my consent towards the end of July 2017.

  • 3. Why did you join The Anglocatholic Church?

We joined the Anglocatholic Church, because at the same time, there is seriousness, canon law, which was missing in the small Churches, and at the same time a great democracy and freedom, as well as a real listening sharing, and above all, a will to do well, and also, the diversity to live and express one’s faith, while being united, despite distances and language barriers.

  • 4. How do you feel ministering in The Anglocatholic Church?

I feel very well in the Anglocatholic Church, because I live, I share, I listen and I feel listened too. Already a year ago I said that I had found my home. I was not disappointed, and I was conquered when we met together in Toronto, where I met the other members of the Holy Synod, and also, that was my baptism of air. I found true brothers who shared the same faith, the same feelings… In a word, a real happiness and I had never experienced this before.

  • 5. What is bringing to you most joy in The Anglocatholic Church?

It is at the same time the meeting with the other brothers, the shared discussions, the respect without judgment between one and the others, the fact of living the evangelical virtues as Jesus asks us, but also the celebrations lived together. For me, that is what true fellowship is all about.

  • 6. How do you see the future of The Anglocatholic Church?

It is difficult to answer this question, because, in reality, we do not know, only God knows. But one thing is clear: in a context, where most of humanity seems to have forgotten its God. We see this everywhere. There are so few people attending Masses in Europe. In France, only 3.5% of the population goes to church offices on a regular basis. We can see that this is not very many. Didn’t Christ say: “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:11)). As a faithful little flock, we must not let ourselves be discouraged, we must continue to move forward with strength and determination, with apostolic zeal, under the unfailing guidance of the Holy Spirit. Since its foundation, our Church, although poor and with few resources, has been present in the world. In a short time, it has developed well. But we must be careful, however, of those who would like to join us for the wrong reasons, and it is not always easy to detect them. That is why we must be vigilant. What I wish for the Anglocatholic Church is to always have true pastors, authentic, with a sense of sacrifice and self-sacrifice. Just as Christ gave his life for her and all humanity, we must also give our lives, and be true witnesses in our words and deeds, and constantly promote the unconditional love of God, to which we must all conform and live it in each one of us, among ourselves and around us, in perfect humility. In this way we will build together in harmony and peace.

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