04/29/2015, 00.00
INDIA
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PIME in India: Fr. Silvio Pasquali is Servant of God

by Rayala Vijay Kumar*
The announcement was made on April 25 last, in the presence of about 700 nuns and 70 diocesan and religious priests. As a missionary in Andhra Pradesh, he founded the Congregation of the Catechist Sisters of St Ann (CSA).

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Fr. Silvio Pasquali, a missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in India, has been declared Servant of God. The announcement was made on April 25 last in Eluru, during the Mass celebrated by the bishops of Eluru, Jayarao Polymeric; of Nellore, M.D. Prakash; of Warangal, Udumala Bala and Bishop Emeritus Mathew Cheriankunnel, PIME, in the presence of Fr. Rayarala Vijay Kumar, regional superior in India, and Sister Linda Rose, Mother General of the Catechist Sisters of St Ann (CSA), with the participation of about 700 nuns and 70 diocesan and religious priests.

This is an important milestone for PIME and the congregation of the Catechist Sisters of St Ann, founded by Fr. Silvio Pasquali (1864 - 1924) when he was a missionary in Andhra Pradesh (now Andhra Pradesh and Telengana).

Five days earlier, on April 20th, the mortal remains of Fr. Pasquali were exhumed from the church of Eluru and placed in a chapel specially prepared in the park called Terra Santa (Holy Land), in the suburb of the city of Pinakadini Eluru, near the school dedicated to the missionary.

Msgr. Udumala Bala noted that "the dream of the Catechist Sisters of honoring their founder was well done." The life of Fr. Silvio Pasquali looks much like that of our contemporary saints, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Pope John Paul II. "It is therefore our duty - he added - to make known the life and holiness of Fr. Pasquale to our Christian people".

He really was a "good shepherd" as we read in the Gospel of 25. A photograph of him, very well known, shows him walking with a cane in his hand, just like the Good Shepherd.

Msgr. Prakash said Fr. Pasquali is one of many PIME missionaries who have worked tirelessly in many villages in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana for 150 years. He should be an inspiration to all the Indian priests who are now parish priests in the same villages.

Many older Christians in these villages, and especially Vatluru Denduluru, still transmit the memory and teachings of Fr. Pasquale and pray for their intentions. It is an oral tradition that has continued for many years.

The example and style of Fr. Pasquali must come into our lives, transform it and make us saints.

At the end of the celebration a booklet in Telugu language, with the lifestory of Fr. Pasquali was distributed to all present. The Catechist Sisters of Saint Anne also prepared an album and a documentary on the life of the Servant of God.

The Apostolic Nuncio, Msgr. Salvatore Pennacchio, expressed his congratulations to the regional superior of PIME with a phone call.

Fr. Rayarala then expressed to Sister Linda Rose, CSA, the congratulations of the Superior General of PIME, Fr. Ferruccio Brambillasca, with the hope to continue in his spirit.

Born in 1864 in Picenengo (Cremona), Father Pasquali entered PIME in 1896 and in 1897 left for India. He was one of the authors, along with other PIME missionaries, of the great movement of conversion in Andhra Pradesh which since the 1920s has welcomed the pariahs (Dalits) to the bosom of the Catholic Church. He died in 1924.

 

* Regional superior of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in India

 

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