Santiago (Fides Service) - Despite pouring rain thousands of people filled Santiago cathedral on July 27 to pay their last respects to Italian missionary Father Faustino Gazziero, a member of the Institute of the Servants of Maria, stabbed to death in the cathedral after celebrating the evening Mass on Saturday 24 July. The funeral was presided by Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, Archbishop of Santiago. Concelebrants included 30 bishops who were in Santiago for a collegial retreat, Archbishop Aldo Cavalli papal nuncio and dozens of priests. Among those present representatives of other Christian communities and other religions, the President of Chile and his wife, the President of the Senate, minister of justice and the mayor of Santiago.
“In our grief we turn to the Lord who always listens to his people and we ask: why Lord? What is the meaning of this?” Cardinal Errazuriz said in his homily. Speaking of the missionary the Cardinal said “the very year he was ordained, 1960, Father Faustino left his beautiful country and beloved family to take up the cross of the missionary. He learned to love our people so much and had such a great desire to serve us desired that he became one of us taking Chilean citizenship. He became one of us, like many missionaries”.
After working for a short while in the apostolic Vicariate of Aysén, entrusted to his Institute Father Faustino focussed his attention on education of youth, pastoral work in the parish, social assistance for the elderly, religious assistance at cemeteries. “He loved to serve in silence” the Cardinal said, “keeping a low profile he put all his knowledge and the fruits of his spirituality at the service of youth... he showed gentle concern to the weak... We will never forget his devotion as daily Mass ”. Padre Faustino united the offering of his body with that of Christ on the altar. Like the Good Shepherd he loved is people. In fact a priest must love his people like Jesus loved even to the final sacrifice. “His vocation was to be another Christ, a man of peace and hope. The goal of his life was to make known the truth which makes us free and to give his life for others. He was killed because he was a man of God ”.
Cardinal Errazuriz said that God sometimes allows suffering to help us reflect on the evils of our world but also on the encouraging sign of many young people preparing to help build a society more just and more fraternal. “This trial will make us stronger. Let us unite are efforts and go to meet the Lord to learn to be true disciples, to welcome in our communities those rejected by society and to build a homeland of justice and brotherhood”. The Cardinal ended his homily with these words:. “We welcome the spiritual testimony left by Father Faustino. We will live to build peace: peace of heart which is peace with God and peace with all”. Father Faustino is buried in the same cemetery where for years he served as chaplain. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 28/7/2004; Righe 37 - Parole 542)