Friday, 8 April 2016

George d'la Forge: Funeral Address by Abbe Marcel Lelegard

George F. Le Feuvre ((29/9/1891 - 27/10/1984) was born and grew up in St Ouen but when his parents emigrated to Canada, taking the family with them, he stayed behind, meeting up again with his brothers only on the battlefields of the First World War.

After the war he joined his family and they eventually moved to America, where he rose to a high position with the Ford Motor Company. He never forgot his home or his native language, however, and when he took early retirement in 1946 he returned for a holiday and in later life spent each year living partly in America, partly in the Island and the remainder travelling the world.

In all he wrote about 900 articles for the Jersey Evening Post and was a regular contributor to the Société Bulletin.

I came across this funeral address which in “The Pilot" in 1984:

“God has Been Good to Me”

Translation of the address given by the Abbe Marcel Lelegard, of the Abbey of La Lucerne, Normandy, at the service in memory, and of thanksgiving for the life, of Mr. George Francis Le Feuvre ("George d'La Forge") at St. George's Church, St. Ouen, Jersey on Saturday, November 17th 1984

“L'Bouan Dgieu a 'te bouan pouor me “

This sentence, so often heard from the mouth of Maitre George Le Feuvre, may serve as a guide to our thoughts today and help us to give thanks with him in spirit for his long and wonderful life.

God was good to him in that he was born in Jersey at a time when it was an island still remarkably distinct and enriched with a proud history, strong ancestral traditions and a marvellous language which he learnt in infancy and which, to the end of his days, was that of his thoughts and of the profound reflections that sprang from his fertile mind.

God was good to him in that he was born to a family of limited means whose philosophy was work, duty and honour. The spirit of mutual aid, deeply imbued with Christian faith and charity, embraced everything - one's being and one's whole life.

To quote from the publisher's note to `Jerri Jadis' (selections published by Le Don Balleine from Mr Le Feuvre's contributions to the `Jersey Evening Post'):

`The author's family experienced difficult times and the hard and meagre life of the Jersey countryside before the First World War. However, there was a pleasant natural environment and, as well, a strong religious faith, pride in one's home, an independence of character full of vigour and, above all that, families and neighbours were closely knit one to the other,'

God was good to him in adopting him as His child on the day of his baptism in this Church of St George 93 years ago this very day.

In reading `Jerri Jadis', `Histouaithes et Gens d'Jerri' (another collection of George Le Feuvre's writings published by Le Don Balleine) and a host of the Lettres du Bouanhomme George, one appreciates to what extent the life of his family during his childhood, marked as it was by morning and evening prayer, unfolded under God's gaze.

It was only from the age of seven that he began to learn English. French he had already heard at the services at St George's Church conducted by the Rev John Pepin (Rector), but George Le Feuvre then still only spoke Jerriais.

After having worked in the office of Mr Charles William Binet (a well-known solicitor and Methodist lay-preacher) he became a Commis Vicomte (now known as Viscount Substitute). However, he took the first opportunity he had to leave to fight in France during the First World War, having joined the artillery.

In 1958 the two of us had occasion to visit certain of the battlefields on which he had known the horrors of war. His experience did not prevent him saying, `God has been good to me, for here I am. I came through'.

There, one day on the eastern front, he was to meet up with three of his brothers, Frank, who had stayed behind with him in Jersey, but also two younger ones, who left in 1901 for Canada with their father and mother to earn their living in Gaspe.

It was during the war, in 1916, that he married a French lady from Dinard, Marguerite, whom he adored but who was taken from him by the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, leaving him with a very young daughter, Reine, brought up by her grandmother.

After the war, in November, 1919, Maitre George, having returned to civilian life, left for Canada in order to see his parents again and to get to know his brothers and sisters born there after 1901. He looked for work and found it at first in Ottawa, then in the United States. By sheer hard work and with much determination and courage, he rose by degrees in a naval construction company to become one of the directors. For these achievements he accorded deep gratitude to the Lord God had been good to him.

It was in the years 1947 to 1950 that I had the good fortune to make his acquaintance at Vinchelez, St Ouen, at the home of our mutual friend, Dr Frank Le Maistre. I was charmed by his so engaging personality and I can say that for 35 years we were bound by a deep and full friendship, witness to which are the dozens of letters received from him in that so fine, so rich, so colourful Jerriais that he wrote so wonderfully well.

And here I must pay tribute in your name to all his qualities, not only to those of the brilliant writer that gained him Le Prix Litteraire du Cotentin in 1974 but also, and above all, to the militant action of defender of the Jersey language who, together with the remarkable Dr Frank Le Maistre, fought with tenacity for the survival of Jerriais as a spoken and living language.

If, nowadays, this language is taught to young people of Jersey and to adults at evening classes, it is pre-eminently to the fervour and to the action of these two men that we owe it.

George Le Feuvre was also a much-travelled man. I was fortunate enough to accompany him on a three-week visit to Scandinavia. There I learnt to know him better still and I was able to gauge the strength and depth of his Christian faith.

I was able to put my finger on his profound attachment to the Church - the Anglican Church of which he asserted with fervour its catholicity, in effect upheld in the Nicene and Athanasian creeds recited in its liturgy. He was greatly attached to its apostolic nature and had at heart a rapprochement with the Roman Catholic Church so that one day there will be the unity that Christ wishes, realized by His chosen means; In the depth of his feeling for the Church he accorded great importance to the rites of the liturgy, to the perfection of the chants. He was a fervent Christian, diligent in receiving the Body and Blood of remembrance at Holy Communion.

‘He who eats my Body and drinks my Blood', said the Lord, 'shall live in me and I in him. He shall have ever-lasting life and I shall raise him up on the last day'.

"The `how' of the Resurrection, evoked by St Paul in the magnificent chapter 15 of his First Epistle to the Corinthians, remains a mystery to us, our faith. It was the certainty of Maitre George - it was also his faith.

In that, too, God was good to him. May he be received in His light and in His glory for eternity. Amen."

Translator’s note: The literal rendering of 'L Bouan Dgieu a 'te bouan pouor me " should really be "God has been good for me "but it was decided to use 'to’ as more befitting the English idiom.

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