Brother Jean-Pierre Schumacher, the last survivor of the community of Tibhirine whose seven brothers were kidnapped and killed in 1996, passed away this Sunday, November 21, 2021 in Morocco in a monastery in Midelt at the age of 97, where he continued to keep the spirit of his community of origin alive.
” He (Jean-Pierre Schumacher) died this morning in serenity at the monastery of Our Lady of the Atlas, in Midelt. He is a simple and fraternal man who knew that his mission was to bear witness to what he lived in Tibhirine », Father Daniel Nourissat, vicar of Saint-Pierre Cathedral in Rabat, told AFP.
On the night of March 26 to 27, 1996, he had the chance to escape, with Brother Amédée Noto, the tragic kidnapping of the monks of Tibhirine. He remained until his death and since the death of Brother Amédée in 2008, the last survivor of the Trappist community of Tibhirine. This discreet community, radiant and well integrated into the local population, was then decimated by the kidnapping of seven monks. The announcement of their execution in a statement attributed to the Islamic Armed Group (GIA) on May 21, remains surrounded by gray areas. The circumstances of this massacre have still not been clarified. Only their decapitated heads had been found on a road, two months after the kidnapping.
The official thesis advanced at the time by Algiers: kidnapping then an assassination, supposedly claimed by Islamist mutineers of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) in the midst of civil war. but the involvement of the Algerian military secret services is beyond doubt. Four years after this tragedy, the brothers Amédée and Jean-Pierre from the community of Trappist monks who managed to escape the roundup, then brought the spirit of Tihbirine and the Cistercian Order to life in the Moroccan Atlas in Midelt, in Morocco, receiving many pilgrims attached to interreligious dialogue and the witness of Christian hope.
Brother Jean Pierre engages in religious life after the Second World War. Ordained a priest in 1953, he joined the monastery of Timadeuc in Brittany a few years later. Faced with the difficulties experienced by the community of Trappist monks of Tibhirine in an Algeria then independent for two years, he was sent there in 1964. He will remain there for more than 30 years, bearing witness to the Gospel in a predominantly Muslim land, which will be torn by the war of the 1990s, the drama of 1996 and the pursuit of testimony. The seven monks executed in 1996 were beatified in Oran in 2018 together with 12 other religious martyrs of the Algerian civil war. Brother Jean-Pierre, then aged 94, was able to attend the ceremony. On March 31, 2019, Pope Francis had embraced him with great emotion during his visit to Morocco.