Father Gilles Reithinger appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Strasbourg

02/07/2021
Fr. Gilles Reithinger
Fr. Gilles Reithinger

Pope Francis has named Father Gilles Reithinger, Superior General of the Foreign Missions of Paris, as Auxiliary Bishop of Strasbourg on Saturday, 26 June 2021. He will be ordained to the episcopate on 4 July at 4 p.m. in Strasbourg Cathedral by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, Archbishop Luc Ravel of Strasbourg, and Archbishop Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille.

The Foreign Missions of Paris

The Foreign Missions Society of Paris (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. The members of the MEP are trained in the learning of languages and cultures, in interreligious and intercultural dialogue. It currently has 160 priests and 17 seminarians.

Ordination and mission

Gilles Reithinger was ordained a priest on 27 June 1999 at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg. In September 1999, in order to complete his English language training, he was appointed curate at Holy Redeemer Parish in Chelsea, London, England. He then moved to Singapore to work at Holy Family Parish. His pastoral experience in the City-State was spent learning Mandarin, discovering the local culture and taking on a position as a parish vicar.

In July 2004, the General Assembly of the MEP Society asked for the creation of a Pastoral and Cultural Animation Service in Paris and this mission was entrusted to him. From 2004 to 2010, he set up a catechetical welcome and launched a new version of the Revue des Missions Etrangères de Paris while coordinating communication.

In July 2010, the General Assembly of the MEP Society elected him Vicar General for a period of six years. During this period, he was responsible for the Pastoral and Cultural Animation Service, responsible for the MEP House in Paris, Manager of the MEP Diffusion Society, participated in several UNESCO sessions as part of the Holy See delegation, Director of the France-Asia Center on rue Royer Collard in Paris, and in charge of the MEP International Volunteer Service. In this capacity, he organized the sending of 150 lay volunteers per year to Asia and Madagascar; he also accompanies the creation of a volunteer service for senior lay volunteers.

On July 12, 2016, he was elected Superior General of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris, during the General Assembly, for a renewable term of six years.

Concerning the missionary Society, on 27 June 2021, as soon as the news of the appointment of Fr. Gilles as bishop was officially released, the Vicar General, Fr. Vincent Sénéchal, took over as new Superior General as stated in MEP Constitutions: "If the Superior General should cease to hold office by reason of death, resignation, or any other reason accepted by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Vicar General would become, by right, Superior General until the next General Assembly. When the Vicar General takes office of Superior General, or when the Superior General ceases to hold office, the Permanent Council, after consulting the members of the Plenary Council, first elects a new assistant, then a new Vicar General" (Constitutions n. 54).

Fr. Vincent Sénéchal, New Superior General of the Foreign Missions of Paris
Fr. Vincent Sénéchal, New Superior General of the Foreign Missions of Paris

The next General Assembly is planned for July 2022, a new Vicar General must be elected before then.