Thursday, June 17, 2010


I am reading entries from my diary made exactly a year ago. Well what a discovery – above all what a wondrous way to look at life – after all we live it forwards but understand it backwards. My life runs into ‘replay’ mode. I relive experiences. I feel pain again when I recall the death of two good people – they are not physically present but they live on in my memories. I feel joy when I relive meetings with friends and family – the meals shared, the stories recounted, the songs we sung all come back to mind. What a great ‘pick-me-up’ this time has been. Coming to think of it – NOSTALGIA is not such a bad thing after all. Memories of the past can boost the present. Looking back at where my life is right now – I realize that I have come a long way…but much remains to be done.

And in an hour we will celebrate the farewell of some of our ‘brothers’ who leave on new assignments. How can we celebrate when sadness invades some part of our minds and hearts? We will try to because we also realize that life is all about growth and ‘moving on’. So we let them go – knowing that it will help them stretch beyond their comfort zones. It means that we will experience discomfort – because they go and because we have to learn to live with new ‘brothers’. Life moves on endlessly – we change, we grow and we help others grow…But, the bonds of friendship and love will not be broken just because a thousand miles separate us. Absence will not make our heart to wander – it will surely make our heart GROW STRONGER.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The funeral of Bishop Luigi Padovese took place in the Cathedral of Milan - the Duomo – on Monday morning. The mass was presided by Cardinal Tettamanzi – Archbishop of Milan – and concelebrated by 27 bishops and 350 priests along with 5.000 faithful. In the first row were the relatives of Bishop Padovese and also representatives from the Church in Anatolia – a minority community facing much suffering.

Cardinal Tettamanzi called Msgr Padovese, a real disciple of Christ who has given his life to announce the gospel and for the life of others. He was a man seeking to open a space for dialogue, for interaction between cultures and religions. He was a meek and wise bishop, a builder of peace and reconciliation.

Four key messages were noted by one of those present at the funeral. The first was a cry to media not to abandon the Church in Turkey. Msgr. Franceschini, the archbishop of Smirne and now nominated apostolic administrator by the pope in place of Msgr. Padovese at Anatolia implored: "We have a plea for the media: Please keep a window open on our land, and on the pain of the Church living in Turkey. You are the voice of those who do not have the freedom to cry out their pain. The truth is justice and is beyond all human considerations."

The second was for Christians to follow the testimony of Msgr Padovese and live their lives authentically. The words of Cardinal Tettamanzi were: "We wish to hear your cry, or rather your lament, coming from your land and your people. It calls each of us Christians to face the challenge of consciously becoming aware of our Christian identity. We need to offer fearlessly, always and everywhere, the witness of a life lived in evangelical authenticity: loving Christ and every human person to the very end."

Then there were the prescient words pronounced by Msgr Padovese on 20 October 2009, who compared the Old Covenant and the New Covenant: "The covenant of the blood of Christ is totally different from the ancient religions. For Christians, life does not come from the sacrifice and death of others but from the sacrifice of one's own life for others. This is the end of violence! It is a voluntary sacrifice! It is a time of solidarity for others".

Finally, there was the appeal for a new missionary style, which could lead to more death but is certain to bear divine fruit. Once again from words pronounced by Msgr Padovese in October 2006: "In an age of pluralism the missionary has to renounce an attitude of domination in order to be successful. He must live the attitude of Christ who came to serve and thus bring salvation to the world."

During the mass, a telegram coming from Cardinal Bertone sent on behalf of the Holy Father was read. It recalled the "generous witness" of Bishop Padovese. Among the many present were also political figures like the mayor of Milan, and the President of the Lombardy region. In their interventions after the mass they made a call for an honest inquiry into the exact motives of the assassin and for those responsible to be brought to justice.

The ex-nuncio to Turkey Msgr. Farhat said at the end of the mass: "This is the way it always happens. They kill the doves, the men and women of peace and dialogue…"

Our wish and prayer continues to be – "May he not have died in vain!"

Thursday, June 3, 2010


This blog entry is in tribute to Bishop Luigi Padovese OFM cap, who was stabbed to death allegedly by his driver, today in Turkey. I have fond memories of Mgr Padovese from my first days at the Alfonsianum in October 1997. His was the first course I registered for in my Master's program. He was a kind and affable man and his classes were very interesting. But what really drew many of us to register was the clarity of his Italian. He spoke clearly enunciating the words and it was so easy to both understand and note down his inputs. His course entitled: Christianity and Politics in the First Four Centuries, took us through new terrain. He meticulously examined texts from the New Testament, the Early Church, and the Fathers indicating the challenges faced in the encounter of the 'new faith' with political power.

He was ordained bishop on 7 November 2004 in Iskenderun—ancient Alexandretta—in Southern Turkey. He was appointed the Vicar Apostolic in Anatolia. He was known to be a good pastor and had won laurels for making overtures to the majority Muslim community of his diocese. He was the ordinary of Don Andrea Santoro, another missionary priest who was stabbed in his church in 2006.

Speaking during the memorial Mass for Don Santoro, Mgr Padovese said, "we forgive whoever carried out this act. It is not by destroying someone who holds opposing views that conflicts can be resolved. The only path that must be taken is that of dialogue, of reciprocal recognition, of closeness and friendliness. But as long as television programs and newspaper articles produce material that shine a bad light on Christians and show them as enemies of Islam (and vice versa), how can we imagine a climate of peace?" Always talking about Fr Santoro, he added, "Whoever wanted to erase his physical presence does not know that his witness is now even stronger."

Reacting to the death of Bishop Padovese, Fr Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said, "What has happened is terrible. . . Let us pray that the Lord may reward him for his great service to the Church and that Christians not be discouraged," but instead "follow his strong witness and continue to profess their faith in the region."

He will be sorely missed. We trust that his death will not be in vain.