In a corner of her studio in Angers, we immediately notice her: a magnificent XXL triptych icon open like welcoming arms, which contrasts with the joyful disorder of the room. A welcome in the image of its history, the story of a rebirth.
Because Olivier Perret, a 25-year-old psychology student, has come a long way. Baptized, the young man from Grenoble was not brought up in the faith, and was rather suspicious of the Church.
The boy ” very sensitive “ is abused at home by a father ” hard “then in college, abandoned by his best friend. “It put me in the role of victim”, analyzes today the student who then begins to “eat a lot to compensate”. Harassment sets in: insults, kicks. In high school, we nicknamed him “Mr Goulu”. Contempt, shame: every day is a fight for ” hold “. An agoraphobia develops, Olivier hides everything from his parents and clings to addictions: pornography, gambling. After the baccalaureate, he is oriented in spite of himself towards a sector in Marketing Technique which does not fulfill him. If he is no longer harassed, he remains deeply bruised.
“I understood that it was up to me to change”
At 19, Olivier is in a car with two friends, for a night trip on a mountain road. The driver drives fast, the car slips into the ravine. And there, during the fall, a fraction of a second, something incredible happens: “I am out of time, on cloud nine. I feel intense warmth and inner peace. I no longer feel the weight of my body, nor the weight of judgment. A voice, which is mine but which comes from outside, says to me: what have you done with your life? » The car is stopped by a tree. No injuries. “The moment I got out of the vehicle, my life changed. By setting foot on the ground, I take the first step of becoming an actor instead of being a spectator of my life.. A long path opens. He doesn’t talk about it to anyone but for him everything is clear: “I had to change”. Olivier then makes no connection with God. He changes his habits: swimming pool every day, healthy food. His outlook on himself begins to change.
A year later, after a new disappointment in his orientation, he joined Restos du Coeur as a volunteer. In contact with great precariousness, he thinks about a future in accordance with his values.
It is at IFF Europe in Angers, an establishment which accompanies young people in their search for a vocation, that he sees clearly in his orientation: it will be a profession in the accompaniment. There he finds “trust in others”and his internship at Maison Bernadette, a Catholic association located in the northern districts of Marseille, is a revelation. “Everything made sense to me,” recalls Olivier, who prefers contact with the population rather than times of prayer.
For if he has begun a path of conversion, the presence of God has not yet been revealed to him. One day, a volunteer said to him: “Olivier, what do you believe in? » Click: why criticize ” religion “he who does not “don’t give the means to feel” the life of Christians? He returns to the Bernadette house, accompanies the association in Lourdes, participates in the Stations of the Cross. “I was being told about love for the first time”, marvels the student who at that moment “feel strong things” without yet naming God.
Return to Grenoble. Electric atmosphere because his parents divorce.
All called to love as God loves us
After searching the internet “a silent and atheistic retreat”, here he is at the Flatière charity home, a Catholic retreat in the mountains in the Chamonix valley! Rosary, compline: Olivier decides to leave. But meeting a listening priest convinces him to stay. The last evening: night of adoration. For Olivier, there is no question of getting up in the middle of the night. The priest lends him his Bible: “If you are awake in the night, I ask you to go. Choose two words, and open the Bible ». Awake in the middle of the night, faithful to his promise, he joins the chapel wondering what he is doing there. He chooses the words “faith” and “love” and opens the Bible. It is the passage of Simon of Cyrene, this unbelieving man requisitioned by the Romans to help Christ carry his cross… Olivier perceives a meaning in the text, but that night, “still no click” witty.
It was only the next day when he woke up, opening the Bible again, that he came across the name of Jesus and broke down in tears. Touched to the heart. “Jesus is the living witness that we are loved unconditionally by an infinite force, and that we have the duty to love ourselves in turn unconditionally”, he confides. From then on, he calls him God.
September 2019. Back in Angers, he joined the faculty of psychology. “Well integrated into its promotion”, Olivier lives again, convinced of being loved, reconciled with himself and with God. Working in parallel in child protection, he regularly goes to mass, reads the Gospel every day.
Very trying for Olivier, the period of confinement will however allow him to move forward on this path of appeasement: he will reveal his whole story to his family and will begin to write it down in a book (Feel and understand, a path to unconditional love, Anovi editions). A clarification with his father will also allow him to shed light on his early childhood.
Today, Olivier has moved away from his father but has found the friend from college who had left him, and has forgiven him. If he is less diligent than before at mass and wonders about certain positions of the Church (in particular vis-à-vis the reception of homosexuals), this seeker of God believes in God’s unconditional love for everyone. And this love, this admirer of Éloi Leclerc and Frédéric Lenoir wants to live it on a daily basis: in the reception of his brothers, with the homeless… Because “Jesus always places himself on the side of those who suffer”.