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From the Responsible
I write this letter to you on the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Before I knew Blessed Charles, I knew St. Ignatius. Blessed Charles helped me to see the importance of being committed to prayer with a monthly desert day and a daily holy hour, but it was St. Ignatius who gave me the spiritual resources to fill those times.
Long before it came into vogue, Ignatius taught anyone who would listen how to have a personal relationship with Jesus. His concept of conversing directly with Jesus through the use of the imagination is now a time-proven method of deepening one’s faith. His insights into the spiritual life in his Spiritual Exercises are unparalleled in helping to bring people into closer relationship with God.
As Diocesan priests we are more or less left to find our own path to a solid spiritual life. Led by God’s grace and guided by wonderful mentors like Mike Smith (for Charles) and Chuck Gallagher (for Ignatius) I found a spirituality that works; that intimately connects me to Jesus and the Father’s will for my life. I know the life of an eccentric French priest living among Moslems in the Sahara is not an easy “sell” for many Diocesan priests, but I think trying to understand how and why Blessed Charles lived out his deep love for Jesus can give spiritual strength to our priestly ministry.
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this morning you celebrated your Passover and the Lord has taken you into his arms as a most dear son. We have prayed much for you, and our prayer has not been in vain. You are in the best place among the blessed, you, who for 57 days were deprived of liberty while kidnapped in Cameroon, you, who did not lose hope in this past year of illness, you have given us every sign of peace and of confidence. “With boundless confidence…” You, who have made the Prayer of Abandonment your life, as did Charles de FOUCAULD. You, a brother loved by all those you have served, tended and worked for… I must thank you for the precious witness of your life, where you have not given up or left to others the mission the Lord entrusted to you.
Your goodbye pains me greatly, but I know that it is temporary. We shall meet in the fraternity of the Children of God and we shall recall the chain prayer campaign around the world for your freedom while kidnapped with Gilberte, whom I had the great joy of visiting in Montreal, and she showed me the objects she had during the kidnapping, and Giampaolo, your missionary companion in Cameroon. I remember with joy the news of your being freed. The bells of many churches in Spain, Italy and so many places rang out that Easter season 2014. Your kidnapping moved us to contemplate the lack of freedom for humanity, for oppressed peoples, for the poorest of the poor, the boot of the mighty that crushes the humble, the manipulation of the lives of human beings by commercial interests and the power that does not show its face, only by means of its hatchet bearers… Yet the human being and his rights, as Pope Francis so often repeats, is above all ideology.
Your Italian Fraternity, your family, your diocese of Vicenza, your friends in Cameroon, are going to miss you, and all the brothers of the Priestly Fraternity shall have you as a benchmark of missionary commitment, courageous, a man of God, who leaves a mark to encourage us to continue working for the Kingdom and its justice. Giampaolo, your mission companion in Cameroon, will continue sowing the seed of this Kingdom that grows from the small and insignificant of our world.
Something told me that you should take care of your health, and I said this to you. Over these past months we have been in touch and I have followed your case with concern. Today I thank the Lord for your life, for how you continued overcoming trials with that human quality of yours which teaches me to value the negative of life, knowing that if the grain of wheat does not die, it does not bear fruit. Like brother Charles, you have given everything for the most disadvantaged, and that fills me with joy, despite the pain of separation. From all that we consider painful, I am certain that something new, unexpected, positive and good for ourselves and for others emerges. Thanks for teaching me to have patience and peace.
Pray for us to God who today fills you with grace and love.
We will always remember you.
Aurelio SANZ BAEZA,
brother responsible, Priestly Fraternity Iesus Caritas,
Perín, Cartagena, Murcia, Spain, 28th August, 2018, The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
Gianantonio ALLEGRI, member of the Priestly Fraternity Iesus Caritas. Born 1957 in Pievebelcino (Vicenza, Italy). Ordained 1982. Curate in several parishes of Vicenza diocese. From 1991 to 2001 he worked as a Fidei Donum missionary in Cameroon. He returned to serve as Parish Priest of Magré di Schio until 2013. He returns to Cameroon and is kidnapped by Boko Haram for 57 days, with his companions, Sister Gilberte BOUSSIÈRE, from Quebec, and Giampaolo MARTA of the same diocese of Vicenza. Following his liberation, he returns to his diocese and serves as Parish Priest of Santa Maria Bertilla in Vicenza.
This morning he reached the arms of the Father after fighting cancer for a year.
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