Chile: Touching farewell for a worker for justice - Fr Antonio Ghyselen

Fr Antonio's colourful funeral

Fr Antonio's colourful funeral

Father Antonio Ghyselen was born in Belgium in 1939 and professed his final vows as an Oblate in 1962. Ordained in 1964, he spent most of his missionary life in Chile. He died in La Pintana on December 15, 2012. From his arrival in Chile until his last days, he lived in the midst of the poor. Faithful to the teaching he received as a Missionary Oblate, he spent his life creating and encouraging Basic Christian Communities. He was outstanding in social-missionary activities at the time when the Archdiocese of Santiago was under the direction of Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez, along with his Vicar General, Monsignor Jorge Hourton.

In 1983, he lost his permanent residency in Chile because of his involvement in the “Sebastian Acevedo” movement against torture, a nonviolent, Christian expression of protest and action against the abuses of human rights that the military dictatorship was systematically committing. In 1989, he once again received his residency document.

For several years, he was the Dean of the Santa Rosa deanery; he was a provincial councillor of the Oblate province, and from 1987 until 1993, he was provincial of that province. As such, he participated in the 1992 General Chapter of the Oblates in Rome. In 1989, he was named pastor of the Oblate parish of Nuestra Señora de la Reconciliación, until the transfer of that parish to the new diocese of San Bernardo in 1992.

Neither the lunch hour nor the sweltering heat managed to mitigate the love, respect and enthusiasm of the 300 people who, on December 16, said farewell to the beloved brother and companion, Oblate priest and missionary, who came from Belgium to live and preach the Gospel among the poorest and the dispossessed from different working neighbourhoods of Chile.

The poignant and crowded funeral Mass, celebrated in the Capilla Jesús Sembrador, was led by the Vicars, Miguel Hoban (southern zone) and Rafael Hernández (northern zone) and was concelebrated by 20 priests of different religious orders, including his brother Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Several of those present, before the beginning of the liturgy, recalled various human and pastoral sides of Fr Antonio. Everyone agreed that this missionary came to be with them where they lived, listened to them, encouraged them in their dreams of a better life and was one with them, without distinction or scolding. Antonio was a born Evangelizer and a great, inveterate promoter of the Basic Christian Communities. Therefore, he lived with the people and the people loved him, respected him and followed him, within and outside the parish...

Noteworthy was the homily of the Vicar, Miguel Hoban. He reviewed Antonio’s great task and hope. “Do not forget Fr. Antonio, a man who let himself be molded by God; there is no crisis in the priesthood when a priest lives close to the people and to the Lord.” He added that this foreign missionary lived as one more resident, living like the people, making his own their hopes and sorrows, and that he strongly promoted the Basic Communities and social ministry. He also based his ministry on listening to people, forming decidedly autonomous pastoral councils in parishes wherever he was.

(Jaime Escobar M in Revista Reflexión y Liberación)

Tags: Father Antonio Ghyselen

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