Bolivia: Bishop dies of Covid - 'A life dedicated to evangelisation'

Bishop Eugenio Scarpellini - Image iglesia viva

Bishop Eugenio Scarpellini - Image iglesia viva

The funeral Mass of Mgr Eugenio Scarpellini, Bishop of El Alto, who died on 15 July, aged 66, from Covid-19, took place on Monday, 20 July in the Cathedral of the diocese of El Alto, dedicated to the Virgin of Carmel.

A missionary in Bolivia since 1988, he was national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, and coordinator of the PMS of the American continent.

The Eucharist was presided over by Mgr Aurelio Pesoa, Secretary General of the Bolivian Bishops' Conference, and attended by priests, religious, authorities and friends, observing careful covid safety measures.

Mgr Sergio Gualberti, Archbishop of Santa Cruz, a friend of Mgr Scarpellini, gave the homily. He said: "On the one hand, the pain and sadness of the sudden and unexpected death of Bishop Eugenio, the loss of a great pastor much appreciated and loved by his people, and in particular by me, with whom we cultivated a profound friendship. On the other, the feelings of gratitude to God for the life of Mgr Eugenio, for having given him the gift of faith, having chosen him as a priest in the image of Christ and for sending him as a missionary to our Church in Bolivia, where he carried out his ministry with passion, generosity and joy."

Mgr Gualberti then recalled "his overflowing vitality and the enthusiasm he put into everything he did, infecting people with the energy that emanated from his whole being, the heart of the faithful follower of Christ, the good shepherd, generous, sensitive and attentive towards people, especially the poor."

Video tributes were played in which the Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies of several countries praising Mgr Eugenio's joy, dedication, generosity, service of the Gospel, his missionary vocation, remembering him as a tireless father, friend and missionary, builder of justice and peace, an example of life that today must be followed by looking at Jesus in the face of the poor, the humble and the simple.

Government representatives and the mayor of El Alto were also present. A message from Pope Francis was read in which he expressed his profound sadness for the family, the clergy, the consecrated and the faithful of the diocese:

"The Holy Father offers prayers for the eternal rest of his soul and imparts the apostolic blessing to all those who mourn such an important loss".

Mgr Pesoa, brought a message of condolence from the Archbishop of La Paz, from the Bishops' Conference and from his brother Bishops. In life he gave everything for the announcement of the Gospel, Eugenio, the tireless missionary as many remember him.

Bishop Eugenio died on the morning of Wednesday 15 July. He was being treated in the Sagrado Corazón hospital in the city of El Alto, but as his condition deteriorated he had two cardiac arrests and the doctors were unable to save him.

Born in Verdellino, Italy, on January 8, 1954, he was ordained a priest on June 17, 1978, and on January 11, 1988 Eugenio Scarpellini arrived in Bolivia as a Fidei donum missionary of the diocese of Bergamo. In the archdiocese of La Paz he held several positions: parish priest, treasurer, college director.

In 2004 Mgr Scarpellini was appointed National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Bolivia and in 2006 Coordinator of the Pontifical Mission Societies of the American continent. On July 15, 2010 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of El Alto, in 2012 he was elected Secretary General of the Bolivian Episcopal Conference, and on June 26, 2013 Pope Francis appointed him Bishop of El Alto. A tireless missionary, one of his greatest commitments was the celebration of the Fifth American Mission Congress held in Bolivia, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in 2018.

Mgr Waldo Barrionuevo, current PMS National Director appointed on 27 February, described Mgr Scarpellini as "a precious person" and highlighted that we are all called to be instruments in the hands of God: "all of us are missionaries by call and vocation of the Lord, the Lord calls each of us to witness our Father". Mgr Scarpellini accompanied the Bolivian Church as Director of the PMS for many years.

Mgr Ricardo Centellas, Archbishop of Sucre and President of the Bolivian Bishops' Conference, said: "We have physically lost a brother, but his spirit will always accompany us..."

Tags: Bolivia, Bishop Eugenio Scarpellini, Archbishop Sergio Gualberti, Mgr Waldo Barrionuevo, PMS, Pontifical Missionary Society, Archbishop Ricardo Centellas

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