Fr. Gros Farewell Letter
C’EST AU REVOIR ET PAS ADIEU
I will never forget a moment near the end of my studies in France. As a young Jesuit I went on a vacation trip up in the Alps with other Jesuits and a wonderful group of young Catholic university students. We spent two weeks near a little village called Barcelonnette, situated several hours northeast of Marseille. During the vacation, one of the students and I had become good friends over our common interest in music. So she invited me to have dinner with her parents in Marseille.
We had a wonderful dinner, and the food tasted exactly like New Orleans cuisine to me. They were very kind, and I totally relaxed with them. After dinner the family took me to the train station in their little Citroën. And when it came time for my train to depart, for some reason the word “adieu” came out of my mouth. Christine almost burst into tears. And in a sweet tone which reflected some sadness and a little hurt, she said: “Eddie, on non dit pas ‘adieu' mais ‘au revoir.’” I quickly caught myself and gave her a big hug, saying: “Au revoir, Christine.” Then I boarded the overnight train for Paris. Christine and I remained in touch for many, many years. And I still hold on to the hope that one day I will see her again.
So as I move on from Holy Name for the second time, I want to be clear that I am saying “au revoir" et “pas adieu.” New Orleans is and always will be HOME for me. “La Nouvelle Orléans. c’est chez nous.”
I think that many of you have wondered why I have spoken so much about Paraguay, El Paso, and Nicaragua. Some have suggested that it was because I did not feel at home here (which is not true at all) or that I was longing to get back to Latin America (which I do hope will happen some day.) But the reason I have spoken so much about those folks is because I have felt the call to be prophetic.
Fr. Edwin Gros, SJ