Missionary killed in Brazil


Fr Ruggero Ruvoletto

Fr Ruggero Ruvoletto

An Italian missionary, Father Ruggero Ruvoletto, 52, was shot dead on Saturday, in Manaus, capital of Brazil’s Amazonas State - in an apparent robbery.

Prayer vigils and testimonies have been taking place both  in Brazil and Italy. The body of the 'Fidei Donum' priest  is being transferred to Italy for burial.

Don Ruvoletto, born on 23 March 1957 in Galta di Vigonovo (Venezia), in the Padova diocese, was parish priest for two years of the “Sagrado Corazón de María” church, in a suburban neighbourhood of Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon.

The missionary world of Padova and many who knew Don Ruvoletto gathered in prayer on Sunday at the Minor seminary of Rubano, where the Diocesan missionary assembly was due to be held.

“A meeting that turned into a memorial and prayer vigil, an expression of closeness to the family, the missionaries, to all those who dedicate their lives to the Gospel”, said in a statement the Diocesan missionary centre of Padova.

Opening the meeting, the director of the centre Don Valentino Sguotti, who is departing for Brazil with Fr Ruggero’s sisters, said: “The experience of faith of Don Ruggero, culminating in the final gift of life, is true testimony of that ‘Gospel without frontiers’ on which this year’s missionary October calls to reflect. Don Ruggero is testimony and martyr of this proclaiming of the Gospel on the borders of the world, without any frontiers”.

Monsignor Francesco Biasin, a diocesan priest of Padova, and “Fidei Donum” missionary in Brazil since the 70’s,  now Bishop of the Pesqueira diocese, in the Pernambuco State (North-East Brazil) said: “I couldn’t hold my tears back for the deep grief I feel for what occurred to Don Ruggero. A man I always considered a brother and friend. Just lately I had heard him serene and joyous, as never before. The beginning had not been easy: he had to integrate into a difficult environment of degrade, with disorganised occupations of new land on the edge of the forest. Crime lately had become very aggressive: a local Bishop had been kidnapped for a few days by bandits, while five religious houses of the diocese were attacked and looted.  Despite all this, Don Ruggero perceived perspectives for his work. Now all his work ended brutally. It is the fate that people who live in this land can meet. A fate that missionaries share fully, without privileges”.

From São Luis, capital of the Brazilian Maranhão State, Paolo Annechini sent a personal testimony to the CUM – Unitary Missionary Centre, a body of the Italian Bishops Conference for the formation of Italian missionaries through various initiatives for both Fidei Donum missionary sisters and fathers, and lay workers – which MISNA quotes as follows: “On a plane to Porto Velho we had a conversation. As always, he was cordial and had a smile. I once again asked if I could visit and film him in his work, and once again he cordially refused the proposal. Don Ruggero did not like to appear, it was part of his character: humble and decisive. But in talking to me, off camera, he was as always passionate. He told me about his pastoral work in Manaus, where he was called for a collaboration between Brazilian churches. He told me about the difficulties of this city that grows daily with people seeking fortune in the Amazon, and those who leave empty handed. All crowd into the enormous suburban neighbourhoods of this city in the heart of the Amazon, where the diocese established pastoral zones, in which Don Ruggero worked. He spoke to me about poverty, marginalisation, sense of disorientation, but in his eyes there was joy and hope. You wake in the morning, Don Ruggero explained to me, “and you discover in the streets who arrived and who left. Each long-term pastoral action is limited in the precariousness of the people of my parish. What I do mainly is meet with the people, visit their homes and share in their problems”.

"He was killed this morning brutally, for futile reasons, during a robbery in his home in the parish. A robbery that probably took a wrong turn, maybe due to the nervousness of those poor people who broke into his home. Yes, poor people, because before being killers they are poor people, with guns in their hand, in a situation that was bigger than them. Poor people: the same who Don Ruggero listened to every day, who he loved enough to walk with them. How many cases like this occur each day in this Brazil that travels at two speeds: the one promoted by President Lula abroad with world powers, and the one of millions of excluded, who are inevitably dragged by desperation into a spiral of violence.

"The death of Don Ruggero shows the risks faced by a courageous missionary who decides to pull up his sleeves and live among the people, on the frontier”.

Source: MISNA

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