A SAT-7 TRIBUTE TO ALGERIA CHURCH LEADER FR THIERRY BECKER
SAT-7’s Founder, Dr Terence Ascott, has paid tribute to French priest Father Thierry Becker, who escaped death several times during Algeria’s brutal armed conflict in the 1990s and who passed away on 25 January this year. Fr. Becker (age 86) dedicated 60 years of his life to serving the Algerian people and previously represented North Africa’s Catholic Christians on the SAT-7 International Board.
As assistant to the Bishop of Oran, Fr Thierry Becker was visiting the Tibhirine monastery on the night of 26 March 1996, when terrorists carried out threats they had made to kidnap and murder seven community members. Their sacrifice brought thousands onto the streets in Paris in mourning and was told in the award-winning film Of Gods and Men.
Monsignor Claveries, the Bishop of Oran, was himself murdered only months afterwards in August 1996.
Some two years after these terrible events, Fr Becker became a valued member of the SAT-7 International Board.
Dr Ascott writes: “In 1998, the Catholic Bishop in Algiers appointed Fr Thierry Becker to represent him and the small Catholic community in North Africa on the SAT-7 International Board (now called International Council), for a three-year term.
“Because of the political troubles in Algeria at this time, Fr Becker was unable to make many of our meetings, but when he could be with us, he was very supportive of the ethos, vision, and mission of SAT-7. He tragically witnessed the loss of almost 30 mostly Catholic clergy in Algeria during the armed struggle of the 1990s, including the murder of the Bishop of Oran.
“Fr Becker was a humble and gracious man who brought helpful insights and much wisdom to our board, and encouragement to the many others he served with great compassion. He will be greatly missed.”
The Algerie 24H news site reports that Fr Becker spent most of his time over the past few years supporting sub-Saharan migrants whenever they were in need or in trouble.
Fr Becker remained a good friend of SAT-7. In 2012, after training local Christians in media production, the network began filming services and other programmes in Algeria itself.
Salah Kessai, one of SAT-7’s Algerian producers, comments on the impact of Fr Thierry’s life: “Our big brother, Thierry Becker, was full of love for all people and always ready to help the kingdom of God. He left us last week, at the age of 86, for a better place than here. Death is gain for those who believe.”