July 4th 2016, 40th anniversary of the death of our five Pallottine confreres in San Patricio, Belgrano.
Monday July 4th 2016 marked the 40th anniversary of the massacre of San Patricio.
Throughout the previous week there were a series of events in all the Pallottine houses in Argentina in preparation for the main celebration of Mass in the Parish of San Patricio, Belgrano R, at 20.00. The Papal Nuncio in Argentina, Monsignor Emil Paul Tscherrig, was unable to attend the Mass due to another engagement but he came to the church an hour earlier, he blessed a new and evocative painting in memory of the 5 which was painted by the artist Roxana Salvatori. Mons. Tscherrig addressed the members of the faithful who had already gathered in the church in preparation for the Mass on the significance of the anniversary and of the deaths of the 5 men. The painting which measures 1.50 metres by 1.30 metres, consists of five gold crosses, each with the initials of one of the 5 Pallottines, the crosses are entwined one with the other, the Holy Spirit is represented at the top of the painting, and it is all painted against a background of red, the same tone as the carpet on which they were massacred. It will be hung on the wall of the church in front of the altar of the Sacred Heart.
The anniversary Mass was celebrated in a packed church, as somebody observed “it would be hard to fit a blade more in the church”. Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli, Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Primate of the Argentine was the main celebrant; 13 bishops concelebrated, Mons. Joaquim Sucunza, Auxiliary bishop and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, together with the auxiliary bishops Enrique Eguia Segui, pro-vicar general, Juan Carlos Ares, of the vicariate of Devoto, and Alejandro Giorgi, of the vicariate of Belgrano; Mons. Carlos Malfa, Secretary of the Argentine Episcopal Conference and Bishop of Chascomus; Mons. Jorge Lozano, Bishop of Gualeguaychu, President of the Episcopal Conference’s Commission for Social and Pastoral Life; Mons. Fernando Maletti, Bishop of Merlo-Moreno; Mons. Oscar Ojea, Bishop of San Isidro; Mons. Martin Fassi, Auxiliary Bishop of San Isidro; Mons. Gabriel Barba, Bishop of Gregorio de Laferrere; Mons. Carlos Tissera, Bishop of Quilmes; Mons. Jorge Torres Carbonell, Auxiliary Bishop of Lomas de Zamorra; Mons. Guillermo Rodriguez Melgarejo, Bishop of San Martin.
Mons. Hugo Salaberry, Bishop of Azul, visited the parish on Friday 1st July and celebrated Mass in the parish church for the 5, he was a personal friend of Fr. Alfie Kelly and Emilio Barletti.
A number of other bishops sent their apologies and a greeting to mark the occasion, they were: Mons. Carlos Franzini, Archbishop of Mendoza; Mons. Juan Alberto Puiggari, Archbishop of Parana; Mons. Damian Bitar, Bishop of Obera; Mons. Joaquin Gimeno Lahoz, Bishop of Comodoro Rivadavia; Mons. Adolfo Canecin, Bishop of Goya; Mons. Luis Eichorn, Bishop of Moron; Mons. Samuel Jofre Giraudo, Bishop of Villa Maria; Mons. Dante Braida, Auxiliary Bishop of Mendoza; Mons. Fernando Croxato, Auxiliary Bishop of Comodoro Rivadavia, Mons. Marcelo Melani, Emeritus Bishop of Neuquen; Mons. Eduardo Miras, Emeritus Bishop of Rosario.
Approximately 55 to 60 priests concelebrated. Included in the number were Fr. Derry Murphy, Provincial of the Irish Province, the Provincial Delegate in the Argentine and Postulator of the Cause, Fr. Juan Sebastian Velasco, Fr. Ruben Fuhr, Regional Rector of the Region of Our Lady of Lujan, Fr. Moacir Piovesan, representing the Provincial Council of the Santa Maria Province, Fr. Rodolfo Capalozza, who was a postulant in the community at the time of the massacre, most of the members of the Delegature in the Argentine and members of the Region. There were representatives from the Passionists, Trinitarians, Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Franciscans, and representatives of the Archdiocese of Mercedes-Lujan, the Diocese of Quilmes and many priests of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. Seminarians from the Seminary Santo Cura de Ars, in Mercedes, acted as master of ceremonies and acolytes and there were two permanent deacons present on the altar.
Relatives and family members of the 5 were present; they included Elida (Nata) H. de Barletti, mother of Emilio Barletti, who was accompanied by her son Gaston, his wife Claudia di Bianco, and their children Sofia and Felipe. Rosario de Barbeito, mother of Salvador Barbeito was present with her daughter Maria del Carmen and granddaughter Victoria. Dickie Kelly, las surviving brother of Fr. Alfie Kelly, with his wife Tessie, was present together with a number of nephews and nieces from Suipacha and Buenos Aires. Fr. Martin Bracht, grandnephew of Fr. Alfredo Leaden concelebrated the Mass, and there were other members of the Leaden family present.
There were religious present representing the many religious congregations in Buenos Aires, and representatives of CONFAR, the Conference of Religious in the Argentine. Rabbi Daniel Goldman, of the Synagogue in Belgrano was present at the Mass, as was Adolfo Perez Esquivel, a winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1980. The Civil authorities were represented by Alfredo Abriani, undersecretary of the Ministry of Religion in the Argentine who was accompanied by the General Coordinator of the Ministry, Claudia Russo and Luis Saguier Fonrouge, the Director General and Anibal Ibarra, Assessor the Council of Magistrates of the Nation. The First Secretary and Consul of the Irish Embassy in the Argentine, Bobby Smith, from Westmeath, represented the Irish Ambassador. There were representatives of the Federation of Irish-Argentine Societies, the Ladies of St. Joseph and of the Fahy Club and of the various institutions of the Irish Diaspora in the Argentine. A group of pupils from the Instituto San Vicente Pallotti School in Belgrano carried the National Flag and were accompanied by authorities and teaching staff of the school.
Members of all the Pallottine communities in the Argentine and many friends of the Pallottines travelled in large numbers to be present and it was impressive to see how they turned out in such numbers despite the bad winter weather.
Cardinal Poli preached and his homily is available and it will be translated into English and put on our Province website. The Mass was a vibrant expression of the Christian Faith and the liturgy was coordinated by a commission of parishioners made up of members of all the different groups and ministries within the parish. Rolando Savino played the organ and he was accompanied by other musicians of the music ministry in the parish and all three parish choirs coordinated their talent which ensured that the singing expressed the solemnity of the occasion.
Pope Francis sent a message for the occasion, it reads:
I received your request to write a brief message to unite myself in communion in the Mass which will be celebrated in memory of the Servants of God Alfredo Leaden, Pedro Dufau, Alfredo Kelly, Salvador Barbeito Doval and Emilio Barletti, on the 40th anniversary of their deaths. I knew Fr. Alfie Kelly personally, a priest who thought only of God, and as you know, I have followed his tragedy from the perspective of faith, given that this is the key to his life and also of his death.
To remember these witnesses can be a stimulus for all of us. In remembering we are presented with a life of commitment, of forgetting oneself, and as servant of the Gospel seeking to be where one’s Lord is, among the least of all.
May the Lord Jesus, who called them to this vocation, bless them and the Blessed Virgen protect them.
The Vatican, 4th July 2016.
Fr. Pablo Bocca, parish priest and rector of the local community, thanked all those present and in particular the Papal Nuncio and Cardinal Poli, the other bishops present and the priests who concelebrated; he passed on the greetings of many persons and institutions which had been sent on the occasion of the 40th anniversary. Pablo and a group of parishioners organized a very emotive gesture immediately after the Mass at the monument to the 5 which was erected outside the church in 2005 and where the repository of the ashes of the deceased is located. At this ceremony 5 olive trees were carried to the monument by representatives of the life of the parish: by the Auxiliary Bishop Alejandro Giorgi, representing the pastors of the church; by Derry Murphy and Ruben Fuhr, representing the Pallottine Family; by Juan Sebastian Velazco and members of the Commission responsible for the Cause; by the architects who designed the repository; and by students of 7th class in St. Vincent Pallotti School, Belgrano, representing the families of the parish and the school community. The olive tree was chosen for its significance, denoting life, health and strength (oil), reconciliation and peace and which has been a special symbol among the People of God since Old Testament times.
Pablo invited all present to partake of Empanadas Criollos and soft drinks prepared by the kitchen staff of the School and served by the Youth Group and the Scout Troop of the Parish.
As already mentioned above, ceremonies and Masses to commemorate the 40th anniversary were celebrated in all the Pallottine communities, parishes and schools in the Argentine in the days and weeks before the anniversary. Three of the deceased, Frs. Alfredo Leaden, Pedro Dufau and Alfie Kelly are buried in the Pallottine plot in the Cemetery in Mercedes. On Monday July 4th a concelebrated Mass was held in the Parish Church of San Patricio, Mercedes; the principal celebrant was Fr. Derry Murphy, SAC, Provincial Rector, accompanied by Frs. Tom O’Donnell and Johnny Sweeney, of the local community, Fr. Fernando Bello, legal representative of the school and Mgr. Jorge Bruno, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Mercedes-Lujan. All the students of the secondary school were present and accompanied by Alfredo Abalo, Director, the Vice-directors and other members of the teaching and administrative staff; the students of the upper years of the Primary School were present together with Daniela Tassara, Vice-Principal, and the teachers. The Mayor of Mercedes, Juan Ustarroz, a former pupil of the school, was present, and he was accompanied by the former mayor, Carlos Selva, now a Deputy in the National Parliament, by Eduardo de Pedro, also a Deputy in the Parliament, and a former student of the school, and also present were Mathias Dematei, president of the Local Council of Mercedes, Juan Carlos Benitez and other councillors. In the congregation were members of the parish communities, friends of the Pallottines and representatives of associations of the disappeared during the time of the military regime in the Argentine.
Following the Mass there was a Liturgy of the Word at the graveside, a letter from Alfie Kelly was read out and all present sang the Salve Regina, which was intoned by Johnny Sweeney.
On Saturday July 2 a new book on the 5 was launched at San Patricio, Belgrano, it’s title is “Juntos vivieron y juntos murieron” and was written by Sergio Lucero, professor of theology and philosophy. It is a slim volume and is based on an extract from the diary of Alfie Kelly written three days before his death; it also contains a profile of each man and some spiritual writings.
Derry Murphy, SAC.