Lucknow (Fides Service) – Sacred Heart Catholic school with 5,000 pupils; an Information Technology Institute for 3000 students, a 300 bed hospital which also has a Nurses Training School, and a Leper colony run by fifty nuns. This is the heritage left by Italian missionary Capuchin Gerardo Pierazzini who died recently at the age of 83, the last Italian missionary in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh State, northern India.
Fr Gerardo left Bologna (Italy) 50 years ago. The Indian Bishops recall him as a pioneer in many fields: he was the first missionary in the diocese to build a hospital in the town Katirabad, named after Capuchin Bishop Corrado De Vito, the first bishop of Lucknow.
Father Ivano Puccetti, missionary secretary of the Capuchin province of Bologna calls Fr Gerardo “a missionary old style, a fighting friar. He was very poor but rich in ideas, always anxious to do great things for the Kingdom of God”.
The Capuchins have missions all over the world. The missions always include besides the monastery, formation and recreation centres, parishes, schools, social structures, hospitals. Numerous also the Capuchin magazines which narrate missionary life such as Contiennte e Missioni Francescane.
The Constitutions of the Order of Capuchin Friars state that missionary friars, in keeping with the thought of Saint Francis – can live among non Christians in two ways: bearing witness to the Gospel demonstrating trust and charity, and submitting to all for love of God; openly proclaiming to non believers the word of salvation. The Indian priests who knew the late Capuchin and have inherited the management of the social works he built, say: “This ideal was fully achieved by Father Pierazzini”. PA (Fides Service 21/5/2003 EM lines 27 Words: 302)