Eluru (AsiaNews) - The life and work of Msgr. Angelo Ramazzotti "should inspire and provoke all Indian Catholics. The Founder of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions lived like a saint, and in his footsteps we must strive not to succumb to the attractions of the modern world which are sometimes harmful. We must carry the Cross high and only seek the eternal reward promised by Christ, in order to be true disciples of Msgr. Ramazzotti", said the Bishop of Khammam, Msgr. Paul Maipan, yesterday opening celebrations for the year dedicated to the founder of the PIME with a solemn Mass.
The missionary effort of Msgr. Ramazzotti, said Msgr. Maipan, "can only be praised. He gave up a promising career in the legal world and joined the religious life to devote all his energy to the service of the Lord, who called him as his disciple. PIME missionaries, sent at first only by the Italian Church, travelled to the far frontiers and most distant corners of the world to preach the Gospel, and when necessary, gave their lives for the faith".
The celebration was held in the courtyard of St. Francis Xavier School in Eluru, in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Msgr. Maipan was joined by the Bishop Emeritus Mgr. Matthew Cheriankunnel (PIME) and the Regional Superior of the Institute, Fr. Rayaralu Vijayakumar. The latter wanted to remember the calls of Pope Francis to "go out" to preach the Gospel: "Msgr. Ramazzotti, Pope Pius IX and the bishops of Lombardy sensed this call a long time ago, preparing diocesan priests priests from the diocese where there was an abundance of vocations to go there where there was the greatest need to those areas where evangelization had not yet begun".
In the year dedicated to the memory of the Servant of God, concluded Fr. Vijayakumar, "the Indian province wants to work even harder to bring the Good News to all and propagate Msgr. Ramazzotti's missionary proposal. PIME was and continues to be a missionary institute, but more and more it is also becoming a missionary expression of the local churches. If we look at our new vocations, we see that they originate from mission lands all over the world".
This transformation, in place for some time, culminated in an important moment during the ceremony: the delivery of the Crucifix to Fr. Gorremucchu Suresh, a young PIME priest from Andhra Pradesh, by the national director of the Pontifical Missionary Society, Fr. Faustine Lobo. The young Fr. Suresh has vowed to devote his life to evangelization "even at the cost of blood" and is being sent to Papua New Guinea. Commenting on his promise, Msgr. Cheriankunnel wanted to remember how "many young Italians, inspired by Msgr. Ramazzotti, made the same choice. And many of them died in the land of their mission".
The Servant of God Angelo Ramazzotti was born in 1800 in Saronno. At 19 years of age his father died, leaving his family a good inheritance. The first son Philip married and left the house to start his own family. The second, Angelo, lived with his mother, he studied, graduated in law and started working at a law office in Milan. He had a brilliant career before him as a lawyer. But in 1824, Angelo realized that he had a vocation to become a priest and to dedicate themselves to the education of young people: in fact, in 1837 he founded in his birthplace of Saronno the first oratorio for children, long before the one founded by Fr John Bosco in Turin.
PIME was born on the far off July 30th of 1850, when Msgr. Angelo Ramazzotti (first bishop of Pavia, then Patriarch of Venice) accompanied a group of students from the "Lombard Seminary for Foreign Missions" - don Giovanni Mazzucconi and don Carlo Salerio - from the seat of Rho Oblates to his home in Saronno: arriving at their destination they met with another group of priests and aspiring missionaries who were attempting to give life to the "Seminary for Foreign Missions".
According to the Gospel parable of the mustard seed, destined to grow, this community gave birth to PIME, which in over 157 years of life has sent out hundreds of missionaries across the world. Today PIME is present in Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong - China e Taiwan, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Cameroon, Ivory Cost, Guinea Bissau, Algeria, Brazil and the Amazonia, Mexico and the United States. A missionary history which is a symbol of evangelization accompanied by good works, born of the concrete needs of the local population
* Missionary of the Immaculate Conception, the women's congregation associated with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME).