Tribute to Raymond Etienne, an icon of the Emmaus movement who recently passed away
It is with great sadness that we heard of the passing of Raymond Etienne on 17 April 2023.
Raymond will always be remembered as a key figure in the story of Emmaus, due to the length of his involvement, the responsibilities he held and the impetus he brought to the movement.
He became involved in the movement very early on and shaped our organisation in many respects, from his early days in the community, to his role as President of the Abbé Pierre Foundation for housing underprivileged people.
Raymond joined as a young community leader, notably in Brest, as a trainee. However, he spent many years at the Emmaus Peltre community in Metz. He left his mark on generations of leaders and companions, always at the forefront in his approach to planning, equipping and innovating in the community, serving as an example to many.
Raymond also took on numerous roles of responsibility within the movement. From 1978 onwards, he took part in the National Conferences in France as a representative of the Eastern Region and was informally referred to as the “President of the Emmaus France Committee” at the 1984 National Conference. He was active and respected in the Central Union of Communities. On 20 November 1985, he was elected as the first Chair of Emmaus France, and he held this position until 1996.
As such, he was a member of the Emmaus International Administrative Committee and participated in its work.
Raymond worked alongside Abbé Pierre and his dear companion Laurent Desmard, one of the founders of the Abbé Pierre Foundation in 1987. He served as President of the Foundation from 1998 to 2017, and in turn took up the fight for housing for the poor.
Unquestionably, Raymond is the very example of someone who came into his own thanks to the Emmaus movement and who, in return, helped to shape it. He was a strong character, close to Abbé Pierre, and was able to bring people together to strengthen the Emmaus movement in France. As someone who always had time for others, he will also be remembered for his camaraderie and strong sense of friendship.
On behalf of the entire Emmaus movement, we would like to pay tribute to this prominent figure in the Emmaus story and offer our condolences to his family and friends in the Metz community and at the Abbé Pierre Foundation.