The Italian-born missionary died from COVID-19 at the age of 90. In the Okara district he helped so many blind kids study. Bishop Rehmat remembers how “He shared to the full our sorrows and joys”.
Okara (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church of Pakistan mourns the death of Father Aldino Amato, a 90-year-old Italian-born Dominican missionary who succumbed to COVID-19 after almost 60 years in Pakistan.
The clergyman died at ittefaq Hospital in Lahore at the end of a long life spent serving the poor in a country whose culture he had adopted as his own.
Fr Amato arrived in Pakistan as a missionary in 1962. In 59 years he carried out his ministry in many cities, including Khushpur, Sahiwal, Faisalabad, Chichawatni and Okara; he also built numerous churches, schools and hostels with particular care for the blind, many of whom received support for their studies until graduation.
His funeral was held last Saturday at Chak 6/4-L, a village in Okara district where the missionary built the Rosary Christian Hospital and a girls' college, as well as set up the Maria and Michele Modugno Foundation.
Speaking about the late missionary, Fr Younus Shahzad, a Dominican confrere and provincial of the Ibn-e-Mariam Vice Province of Pakistan, said that he was himself an organisation and a school of thought, “dedicated to his work [. . .], like a tree that gave shade to those who were tired and in need of shelter.”
Dr Sabir Michael, who was born blind, now lectures at Karachi University. He describes himself as one of the fruits of Fr Amato's work.
“He was a great spiritual leader who inspired countless priests,” Prof Michael said. The priest “established a Christian school and home for the blind and school and college for the poor villagers of Chak 6 Okara. I am one of them who studied there,” the educator added.
Speaking at the funeral, Bishop Indrias Rehmat of Faisalabad said: “I thank God for the life and works of Fr Amato. He was a great priest and missionary in Pakistan.”
For the prelate, Fr Amato’s legacy will be his love for the poor, his dedication to his priestly ministry, his efforts to promote education, his care for the sick and blind children, and his availability for everyone.
“When I heard the news of his death, I immediately remembered some verses from the Bible that sum up his life: ‘Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried’ (Ruth 1:16-17).”
Fr Amato, Bishop Rehmat said, “shared to the full our sorrows and joys, and his death here in Pakistan was a testament to the commitment with which he gave his whole life to our people.”