Founder

PIERRE GOURSAT

Born in Paris, France August 15, 1914, feast of the Assumption, he lived a humble life. He grew up with his mother after his parents separated early in his life. Towards the end of Pierre’s life he was reunited with his father and eventually they grew closer. Pierre lost his only brother to at an early age. Brought up Catholic he experienced a conversion at the age of nineteen when he had a profound encounter with Christ, then Pierre chose to give his life for the Lord in celibacy and remain in the world to evangelise. He was a hotel manager, art critic and secretary of the Catholic Cinema Office.

He battled with tuberculosis from which he was healed in 1944 in Lourdes, attributing his healing to the Virgin Mary. Even after his healing he battled poor health all his life.

In 1972 he met the Renewal and the Holy Spirit became his guide in everything. From this encounter started the prayer groups and followed the birth of the Emmanuel Community. For the next thirteen years Pierre worked as the leader of the new Community, helping people, forming them and offering his witness of purity, charity, faithfulness and humor through his attitude in establishing the Emmanuel.

In the summer of 1985 he was hospitalised with coronary thrombosis and in September stepped down from the government of the Community. According to his request Gérald Arbola was elected in his place. He had began to acquaint Gérald with the government of the Community a year earlier.

Once he had stepped down, Pierre drew back from the scene and trusted in his successor. He continued to help the Council of the Community but very discreetly. Two rooms in the Emmanuel Community headquarters in Paris were fitted out for him and he lived there during his last years.

In the last year he prayed night and day saying, “The Holy Spirit discharged me from everything and told me, “All you have to do is pray.” That’s beautiful!”

Pierre died in the morning of March 25, 1991, both the feast of the Annunciation and Monday of Holy Week. He had received the Eucharist the evening before around 9:30pm and had asked afterward not to be bothered. After the funeral in Paris he was buried in Paray-le-Monial, France.