Story of a thank as big as the world
At the start
In fall 2013, Daniel Pittet, a family man, expressed his wish to produce a book about consecrated life in the French-speaking part of Switzerland “to thank all the consecrated men and women who enabled me to be upright today.” He created an association, surrounded himself with nuns and clergymen interested in his venture and contacted all the consecrated population in French-speaking Switzerland. More than 250 testimonies were gathered together, certain telling of the basis of their vocation, others describing events which have left their mark on their lives, and there were those who spoke of their personal paths, their discoveries, their doubts and their joys. 80 texts and extracts have been selected, the photographer Jean-Claude Gadmer travelled to and fro the various communities, searching for evocative clichés, Father Albert Longchamp, Jesuit and journalist, wrote the preface whilst Madame Micheline Calmy-Rey agreed to compose the afterword.
Pope Francis intervention
In September, 2014, when all seemed to be virtually completed, Daniel Pittet went to Rome to try and obtain a testimony from Pope Francis. On his arrival at the Vatican, he was taken to Francis, who took note of some of the texts in the book. And from that moment one thing rapidly led to another: the Pope expressed his admiration for the book and its simple, authentic testimonies. Only the title was to be changed as it was considered too abrupt and intellectual. So, Consecrated Life became Love Is Giving Everything, a missionary title, according to a proposition of the Pope himself. Furthermore, Francis put forward a demand that the book be translated into several languages, that it be published throughout the whole world, especially in Africa, and that his picture with the book be used as publicity. And all this with the support of Saint Joseph for the financing, and of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, from whom the title is borrowed, for the distribution of the message. And to crown everything, there was the proposal to distribute the book on St Peter’s Square at Angelus on a Sunday in 2015.
French-speaking Switzerland to the world …
All the members of the Association were astounded and wondered what had fallen on top of them! They had never imagined such their book on such a scale. They tried to face up to the challenge, made contacts for the translations, got in contact with the Saint-Paul printing house in Fribourg, and with the Saint Augustine Publishers in St Maurice for distribution in Switzerland. Everything happened very quickly: the book has been translated into German, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, and English, an internet site has been created, the conferences of the consecrated in Switzerland and in Europe have been notified and have offered their moral and financial support for the project. Approaches have been undertaken for distribution in Africa, demands have been made for the 2016 World Youth Day in Poland, and even Chinese priests have manifested their wish to see the book distributed in their country. The joy that Pope Francis continuously talks of concerning consecrated men and women is spreading throughout the world.
Twenty years ago, in 1994, the book Meetings at the monastery, published in 12’000 copies by Prier Témoigner Editions, was a great succes. Best-selling book in 1994, this book received the 1995 Jury Special Price of the Catholic Media Award. It was a great satisfaction to its authors, Patrice Favre, journalist, Jean-Claude Gadmer, photographer, and Daniel Pittet, initiator of the project, with the committee of Contemplative Communities.