The head of the Paris foreign missions appointed auxiliary bishop of Strasbourg


Pope Francis has appointed Father Gilles Reithinger, Superior General of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP), Auxiliary Bishop of Strasbourg in France.

The 48-year-old priest will be ordained on July 4 in Strasbourg Cathedral by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, along with Bishop Luc Ravel of Strasbourg and Bishop Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille.

The MEP is a society of apostolic life of diocesan priests, founded in 1658, for the proclamation of the Gospel in Asia and the Indian Ocean.

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Father Reithinger served as a missionary in Singapore and learned Mandarin as part of his missionary activities.

MEPs are trained in language learning and interfaith and intercultural dialogue. The society currently has 160 priests, many of whom work in Asian countries.

Father Reithinger, born November 25, 1972, attended the Collège François Villon and the Lycée Lavoisier. He is the eldest of three children of Paulette and Jean-Marie Reithinger.

His pastoral experience in the city-state was devoted to learning Mandarin, discovering the local culture and working as a parish vicar.

After his baccalaureate, he studied biology and entered the Grand Séminaire de Strasbourg in September 1991 where he completed his training for the priesthood.

During this formation, he discerned a missionary vocation and spent two years in Madagascar from 1994 to 1996.

The experience, within the framework of the national prison chaplaincy and the teaching of French in the diocese of Ambatondrazaka, shaped its missionary dynamic.

In June 1997, he obtained a master’s degree in theology on Saint-Irénée and a post-graduate degree in practical theology and communication at the Marc Bloch University in Strasbourg.

He was ordained a deacon on June 21, 1998, incardinated in the diocese of Strasbourg as a member of the European Parliament and received his mission for the diocese of Singapore and the Chinese world.

He was ordained a priest on June 27, 1999 in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg. In September 1999, in order to complete his English language training, he was appointed vicar at Holy Redeemer parish in Chelsea, London, England.

Father Reithinger then moved to Singapore to work at Holy Family Parish. His pastoral experience in the city-state took place in the learning of Mandarin, the discovery of the local culture and the post of vicar of the parish.

In July 2004, the MEP’s general assembly requested the creation of a pastoral and cultural animation service in Paris and this mission was entrusted to it. From 2004 to 2010, he set up a catechetical reception and launched a new version of the Revue des Missions Etrangères de Paris while coordinating communication.

In July 2010, the MEP’s general assembly elected him vicar general for a six-year term.

As such, it organizes and sends each year some 150 lay volunteers to Asia and Madagascar. He also supported the creation of a volunteer service for senior lay volunteers.

On July 12, 2016, he was elected Superior General Member of the European Parliament for a renewable term of six years.

Teamwork, attention to biodiversity, complementarity of skills, synodality, community discernment and support from professionals sum up its life dynamics

After having exercised pastoral ministry in London and Singapore but returning to France because of the elective mandates he enjoyed, Father Reithinger had parish commitments by being available for replacements of priests during the holidays, by providing summer apostolates. in dioceses with few priests, but to lead retreats, recollections and training sessions. Being close to Christian communities has always been a priority.

In Paris, he tried to structure the MEP by relying on teams of collaborators both internally and externally with resources made up of legal, communication and management professionals.

Teamwork, attention to biodiversity, complementarity of skills, synodality, community discernment and support from professionals sum up its life dynamics.

His confreres see him as a distinguished priest with a mission-oriented spirituality. Ad Gentes striving to reach people in their culture according to the missionary tradition of inculturation.

Impregnated with the Fathers of the Church and the spirituality of Henri de Lubac, he places the encounter with the other at the heart of his apostolate. He wishes to recognize the face of Christ in the hearts of the people of which he is a part, always marked by the importance of “living together” and of dialogue in a multicultural context while respecting each other’s traditions.

Father Reithinger is passionate about running, music and literature, and he wants to walk with people respecting individual paths and according to the dynamics of “meeting and dialogue”, “inclusion” and “discernment” encouraged by Pope Francis.

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