EUROPEFr. Joaquín Martínez Vega, OMI: 1934-2017
From 2006 until 2014, Fr. Joaquín MARTÍNEZ served as the Postulator General of the Congregation, while at the same time serving on the formation staff of the International Scholasticate in Rome. Fr. Joaquín died on 4 February 2017 in his native Spain.
During his years as Postulator General, he had the great joy of bringing to a happy conclusion the Cause for the beatification of the Oblate Martyrs of Spain, a Cause that he had worked on even before moving to Rome. The ceremony of beatification took place in Madrid on 17 December 2011.
Born in Spain in 1934, he pronounced his first vows as an Oblate in 1954 and then went to the International Scholasticate in Rome for philosophy and theology. Ordained in 1960, he exercised various ministries before coming back to Rome: Master of Novices, Provincial of Spain, and missionary work in Sahara, Romania, and Venezuela.
A devoted "blogger,” he posted news about the Oblate causes for beatification and about the International Roman Scholasticate. In one of his last entries in the IRS blog, he wrote: "Yes, maybe this is the ‘penultimate’ message I write on this IRS Blog. It is directed especially to the members of my dear community of the IRS, in diaspora. But not just them... As you well know, I am in Madrid following a chemotherapy treatment and this will continue for a while. Will I go back to Rome? Will I stay in Spain? Will the final stage of my life be Campo Verano [ed. Roman cemetery] or the Oblate tomb of Pozuelo? I do not know and I do not worry about it either. I only ask the Lord to preserve my inner peace and keep me in the joy of accepting this ‘willingly’, as the Saints say about unforeseen events. I made perpetual oblation many years ago and I ask for the grace of living the fourth vow "ad mortem usque” (until death). Pray for me, asking only for that: perseverance. I want to thank you all for your fraternal charity that encouraged me to live the Oblate ideal of community: "Cor unum et anima una”…”
The Mediterranean Province, on its website, published recently an interview with Lucia Borzaga, the sister of Blessed Mario BORZAGA, one of the recently beatified Martyrs of Laos. Here are excerpts from that interview with Blessed Mario’s "little sister.”
For 56 years, more than double the age of Mario when, at the end of April 1960, he left for a village in Laos from which he would never return, Lucia Borzaga, the sister of Fr. Mario, waited with patience and perseverance those many years for the official recognition by the entire Church of the martyrdom of her brother. A professed member of the secular institute of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate (OMMI), always smiling and available, she never stops telling and giving witness everywhere about the experience of Fr. Mario, including the suffering and hopes of his family. Five years younger than Mario, they had a strong relationship which continued even after her brother left home at the age of 15 to enter the seminary and this did not change even 10 years later when he left as a missionary for Laos. She was a little more than 20 years old when they lost contact with him, and today she is a wonderful lady who has finally had the joy of being present when Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of her brother. We asked her to tell us of her feelings and reactions.
Blessed Mario BORZAGA
As "his sister", how did you experience the beatification of Mario?
A particularly happy day was 5 May 2015. The Decree of Beatification signed by Pope Francis was the climax of a long and painful journey. How could we forget the passing of months and years waiting for some news: Fr. Mario and Xyooj, his faithful catechist, disappeared in the high mountains of Laos, their bodies never found. The waiting of their mothers, in tears and in prayer, hoping against hope for their return. Long years of suffering. How can I forget the martyrdom of my family? My mother's tears and the silent grief of my father, waiting for their missing son, constantly and generously offered for the Laotian church, without hatred or resentment, ever and always attentive to its needs as if Mario was in the mission. Never more than in this period has the Church been watered by the blood of the martyrs, but let us not forget that besides the martyrdom of blood, there is the martyrdom of their families: the tears of the mothers, the wives, the many orphaned children. The martyrdom of blood blossoms in the Church next to this silent martyrdom.
Lucia Borzaga with the Oblate cross that belonged to Father Mario (http://www.vitatrentina.it)
Can you tell us some personal stories of when you were children?