By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published June 27, 2014
COLLEGE PARK—Regardless of what dialect of the French language one speaks, all can understand the word “Hosanna!”
Musicians proclaimed “Hosanna” in song while rehearsing for the Francophone track of programming held the evening of June 20 at the Eucharistic Congress at the Georgia International Convention Center.
French-speaking Catholics gathered for adoration, to hear music, and the reflection of Father Dimitri Demesmin of the Diocese of Les Cayes, Haiti.
No Francophone track was held at the 2013 congress, and in 2012 the guest speaker was West African priest Father Daniel Gbadji, a native of Togo.
Haiti native Alberta Therlonge, a parishioner of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Decatur, said organizers try to switch speakers due to so many “different dialects” of French spoken in the local church.
Nearly 100 people took part in the program. “It varies every year,” said Therlonge about attendance.
Father Demesmin studied philosophy and theology at Notre Dame Seminary in Haiti and was ordained a priest in 2004. He is pastor of St. Therese of the Child Jesus Church in Derriere-Fort, and has preached many missions in the United States and Canada.
“He’s wonderful,” said Gracieuse Legendre about Father Demesmin. Legendre also worships at Sts. Peter and Paul Church. The Decatur parish offers a regular Haitian liturgy.
Father Gilbert Exumé, pastor of St. Matthew Church in Winder, was very involved in the planning of the Francophone track.
Father Exume´ explained that the congress is how the bishops of the Archdiocese of Atlanta bring to life part of the vision of John the Evangelist in the Book of Revelation: “Behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and tongues standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
“The archdiocese is blessed to be rich with such a variety of cultures who share and practice the same and common faith,” said Father Exumé. He pointed out that the Eucharist is being celebrated in the archdiocese in English, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, French and other languages.
“Once a year all of them gather in one place to experience the love of God through the love of their shepherds,” said Father Exumé.
Born in Haiti, Father Exumé said the foreign language tracks are important for those who were born and raised with a different language.
“There is nothing more noble, more beautiful, and more powerful than to hear a piece of music being sung or a Bible verse being read in the language that first sowed the seed of faith into their hearts,” he said.
A parishioner at Holy Trinity Church in Peachtree City, Travis Richardson was also checking out the Francophone track. Born in Montréal, Richardson is the son of a French Canadian mother and American father.
A senior at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and a linguistics major, he can speak French, English, Russian and German and plans to study Spanish and Italian.
After graduation, Richardson will join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and “discern” the priesthood. He hopes to do translation work as well.
“It’s really amazing,” said Richardson about the availability of a Francophone track. “It shows the universal church.”