South of Paris, woman prays for longtime friend injured at Bataclan

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People light candles in the shape of a cross and heart in Republique square in Paris Nov. 14 in memory of victims of terrorist attacks. Coordinated attacks the previous evening claimed the lives of 129 people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
People light candles in the shape of a cross and heart in Republique square in Paris Nov. 14 in memory of victims of terrorist attacks. Coordinated attacks the previous evening claimed the lives of 129 people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

MONTREAL (CNS) — Claire Bourjade can’t do anything but pray. The news came as a shock: Francois, a young man she’s known since he was a boy, took a bullet during the Bataclan attack in Paris Nov. 13.

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Bourjade, 59, a nurse, lives in a village near Toulouse, 365 miles south of Paris. She told Presence info she followed news of the terror attacks on television, after the soccer game she was watching was interrupted for a special broadcast.

“I experienced fear and a deep sorrow as I was overwhelmed by what was happening,” she said.

The following morning, her friend called to say that Francois, now in his early 30s, was among those wounded. Bourjade, who has known him ever since he was 10, describes him as a calm man. He, too, was from southern France, but had to move to Paris for his work. She told Presence info she did not want to give too many details, out of respect for him and his family.

In the 48 hours after the attacks, Francois had multiple surgeries. A bullet hit his stomach and came out of his back, barely missing both his liver and his spine. However, his pelvis was shattered; he was put in an artificial coma.

“I think death is closing on him, but — with the help of faith — he might just make it. I hope!” Bourjade said.

When she was a young nurse, Bourjade lived in Paris for a few months. She was living with other young women she met through the Focolare movement. She said the times have changed, and young people go out more at night in Paris.

Most of the victims of the Bataclan attack were young people in their 20s or 30s. The attack was part of a series of coordinated attacks for which Islamic State claimed responsibility.

“Faith and life (are) stronger than everything,” Bourjade told Presence info. “If the strength is given to us, we must answer with love and peace.”

Bourjade, who was raised in a very strong Catholic family, said faith has seen her through the rough times in life.

“Even if sometimes I have doubts, faith helps me see things with more peace and hope. It also makes me see that those who did these crimes must have lacked a lot of love,” she said.

By Philippe Vaillancourt, Catholic News Service. Vaillancourt is editor-in-chief of Presence info based in Montreal.

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