Died While Celebrating Mass
One of the priests in Saipan who seriously
entertained the idea of starting the Neocatechumenal
Way in the CNMI, together with Father Roger
Tenorio, was Father Gary Bradley SJ, then
pastor in Kristo Rai. God however had other
plans. A few months before the Neocatechumenal
Way started in San Vicente, Father Gary was
called to heaven while celebrating mass.
Dying during mass is a rather dramatic
of exiting this earth but I know of
priests who would script it this way
had any power over the mode and timing
Earlier this year, a Spanish priest
by the Church and he caught my imagination
specifically because he was called
just while he was celebrating Mass.
is Josep Tous Soler. This was in 1871
the chapel of the Capuchin College
Born sixty years earlier, Josep joined
Capuchins at the age of sixteen. His
for the priesthood was intense, silent
abnegated. He was ordained in 1834.
later, at the height of violent anticlericalism
in Catalonia, he was imprisoned and
banished from Spain with other exclaustrated
He spent nine years in exile in Italy
France, alternating his life with protracted
moments of prayer and Eucharist adoration
in the Benedictine convent of Toulouse
intense moments of pastoral work and
It is said that the life of Father
was a continuous Mass.
After this long period of exile, he
to Catalonia in 1843. Since the Spanish
had dissolved religious orders, Tous
his remaining years as a diocesan priest.
He could not live in a convent because
religious houses were disbanded and
lived with his parents and worked in
parishes close by.
Gradually Father Tous discovered he
particular care for education; his
likened it to the attitude of "Jesus
before the crowd, who felt compassion
the sheep were without a shepherd."
He found this same inspiration in three
he knew - Remei Palos Casanova, Isabel
and Marta Suñol. They decided to dedicate
all their life to Catholic education
thus was born the Congregation of the
Sisters of the Mother of the Divine
The first community was established
in March of 1850. He was 39 years old.
Father Tous exhorted the sisters to
in children's hearts holy thoughts
affections that God communicated to
in prayer." The Good Shepherd
model and their inspiration.
At the moment of his death, Father
no terminal illness. Many believe that
death was caused by the severe tensions
had to face, generating extreme physical
exhaustion. Just after the consecration,
he genuflected and fell to the ground.
was it! The parish priest of San Francesco
di Paola went to pick up his lifeless
and to finish the Mass.
Someone wrote, 'The cross was two pieces
of dead wood; and a helpless, unresisting
Man was nailed to it; yet it was mightier
than the world, and triumphed, and
triumph over it'. Perhaps our helplessness
is not such a handicap to holiness.
be our only asset!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
granted for any non-commercial use,
that the content is unaltered from
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