“When you have to take up your pilgrim’s staff, a bit like Abraham in the Book of Genesis, you always have mixed feelings”, entrusted to The cross Bishop Jean-Marc Eychenne. On Wednesday September 14, the pope appointed him bishop of Grenoble-Vienne, in Isère, which he will join after having spent nearly eight years at the head of the diocese of Pamiers, Couserans and Mirepoix.
On the one hand, Bishop Eychenne feels the “joy to hear a call. It is always a sign of recognition on the part of the Church to which one belongs and which says, through the voice of the pope: ‘I am counting on you’”. And at the same time, “it’s a sadness, a wrenching to have to leave a land, people with whom a mystery of alliance has been played out”.
Between plain and mountain
Jean-Marc Eychenne had forged a special bond with Ariège, where he was born almost sixty-six years ago – he will celebrate them on November 2. Admittedly, he made many detours before returning to this department in 2014-2015. He grew up in Île-de-France, was a philosophy student at the Sorbonne, an aspirant student at Coëtquidan (Morbihan), and in 1977 he entered the Saint-Martin community, then based in Genoa (Italy), before moving to he was incardinated in 1994 in Orléans, where he was appointed vicar general in 2009. But Pamiers will remain the place of his baptism, where he regularly came to see his grandparents.
Leaving for Isère, Mgr Eychenne, who succeeds Mgr Guy de Kerimel – Archbishop of Toulouse since December – will also find a diocese between plain and mountain. But another rurality: it is “marked with the seal of modesty” in Ariège, probably better off at the foot of the Alps.
“A need to adapt” to these new realities
From one diocese to another, the change in scale is striking: Grenoble-Vienne has almost four times as many priests as Pamiers. But the diocese is also eight times more populated… “Returned to the people, it is also a reality of shortage of ordained ministers, says Bishop Eychenne. It remains mission land. Anyway, in France, everything is a land of mission today, there is no easier diocese than others! »
However, it provides “need to adapt” to these new realities. “As bishop of Ariège, in a way, I could consider myself the parish priest of a large parish, with collaborators who are priests, deacons, lay people in ecclesial mission, he analyzes. In Isère, I will let myself be guided by the people of God, but I will no doubt be obliged to have another form of presence. »
This spiritual spoke with admiration of the presence of the monks of the Grande-Chartreuse in his future diocese. “It is a wealth for a diocese to have contemplative places like this, which are rocks, source places. And inside, it’s a relief: when you have sensitive subjects, difficulties, you know you can entrust them to the prayers of men and women religious. » His installation mass will take place on Saturday October 22 at 11 a.m. in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Grenoble.