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Remembering a companion
25/01/2012 Italy

Fr. Nino BUCCA, the Director of Oblate Communications Service and the webmaster of www.omiworld.org wrote a brief note of homage for one of his scholasticate companions who died recently at a very young age.

Father Angiolino DI LIZIA is the second of my scholasticate companions to depart for the community in heaven, after Father Giovanni SANTOLINI. He died at the age of 58, during the night of January 18-19, after a long battle with leukemia.

The first memories that come to mind involve a couple of months we spent together in Lourdes in far-off 1978 and some of our crazy attempts to put together some sentences in French; his passionate love for the Milan soccer team; and his impatience when confronted with fans of other teams.

As often happens for many of us, our apostolic life separates us for a long time. I met him again as parish pastor in a suburb, working with the poor and even constructing the church. Then I met him once more as I read his licentiate thesis when I had to write an article on our community in Marino which, in the 70’s and 80’s was bringing new energy to the Italian Province. His writings give a clear idea of how well he knew that experience: “The Youth Center of Marino is not a place for cultivating Oblate vocations; it is not a more open kind of seminary, but it is a place where a religious community offers to youth the possibility of having a community and gospel-centered experience in freedom and in participation, helping them in their search for and in the confirmation of their life project […] As the basis of the Marino experience, there are two fundamental realities: the discovery of one’s brother as a member of the Body of Christ, called to a common following of the Master, and the mutual love which the presence of the Lord engenders […].” Then we saw each other again, some years ago, in his final assignment, the community of Palermo in Sicily. Each time, I had the impression of a person who was growing ever more mature, ever more rooted in God.

During his illness, his parishioners were the image of their pastor: with affection and gratitude, together with the Oblate community, they helped him 24 hours a day. Since Christmas night of 2011, the day of his last Mass, until the end, the parish community stayed his course, trying to advance all of the programs developed by the pastor and the Pastoral Council.

At about 23:30 on January 18, a neighboring pastor joined the Oblates and some of the faithful who were present with Angiolino on his death bed. He too wanted to pray the “Our Father” and then, the “Hail Mary.” Right after the words, “pray for us now and at the hour of our death,” he gently breathed his last.

He had written: “What is left in life is an ever deeper and an ever more mature union with God which refocuses you so as to live every moment within the humanity of today, as persons who are in the world, but not of the world. It is a personal relationship with God wherein He is everything in our life and we are nothing, but He fills us with his Love so that we can be His living Presence among the people with whom we come into contact […] I have tried never to break unity with the brethren, but to bend myself so that this unity might not come up short among us […] In my ministry, I have experienced that what counts is not so much activity but being a living presence of Jesus, because it is He who touches hearts and we are only instruments in His hands.”