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Cimitero

 Rev. Fr. Antonio PORCELLATO, Superior GeneralI am at square 81 of the great cemetery of Rome, the cemetery of Verano. I am next to the tomb of the SMA. We came here again this year, on November 1 or sometimes on November 2nd, to pray and honor our confreres who are here. It is a tradition that is greatly appreciated by those who live in the house and those who pass by.

This large cemetery impresses; it is an area of 83 hectares.And it is a place that since ancient times has been reserved for the dead. It was made in its present form after Napoleon’s decree of Saint Cloud, which stipulated that all the dead should be buried outside the city. A great architect, Valadier, made this project. Verano is a cemetery which is a kind of open-air museum, a museum where one can find the thoughts and art of the 2nd half of the 19th and the 20th century. And it is here that the SMA also has a tomb for those who die in Rome, or who die while passing through Rome.

 

1- Fr. Louis BOUTRY (1850 - 1893)

The first name we find here is the name of Father Louis Boutry. His name is on the tomb but he is not buried here; because he was buried in a mass grave here at the cemetery before this tomb was built. Father Boutry was born in Coutances, in the diocese of Coutances, in France. He was a missionary in Benin and a few years later he was made delegate of the propagation of faith of Lyon; and for this, he was going around to appeal for missions. He has traveled to several countries: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay; but above all it is in Mexico that he worked more. He was very famous in Mexico. He collected a lot of money there and later he returned to France and then to Rome to report of his animation work in South America. He met the Pope and received his blessing. And later on, he had a cardiac arrest and died here in Rome. And it is here, after the tomb was built, that we inscribed his name on the tomb, next to the other confreres who are buried here at Verano.

2- Fr. Louis GIRE (1900 - 1955)

The first father who was actually buried in this tomb is Father Louis Gire. He was born in 1900 in the diocese of Reims in France. At twenty-six, he left for Côte d’ivoire. He stayed there for sixteen years. He works in the stations of Grand Bassam, Tiassalé, Agboville, Dabou. His health deteriorating, he returned to France. There he taught for a few years in formation houses and later on he was appointed as chaplain of the OLA sisters in the house of Marino not far from Rome; 30 kilometers from Rome.
He was a very pious. While he was praying in front of the grotto in Marino he got a stroke which led him to death. In his room, was found at his bedside an open book on the page reading: death is the door open to eternal life.
He is buried here. Father Louis Gire.

3- Monsignor Jacob MUIJSER (1896 - 1956)

One year after Father Gire, in 1956, Father Jacob Muijser died here in Rome. He is one of the three fathers who are buried here from the province of Holland. Father Muijser was a remarkable person. In our SMA history, we devoted a file to him in the 16 files of “passionate for the mission” prepared a few years ago for significant people in our history. We can define him as the apostle of unity. He was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He worked in Egypt. He was a very dedicated and very intelligent man. His passion was to bring the Copts to unity. He has worked a lot with the Catholic Orthodox Church but also with the Muslims; he spoke Arabic very well and it was said that even the authorities of the Coptic Church came to him to ask for information on their own traditions; He knew the tradition very well, he was so passionate about the Coptic Orthodox tradition. He was invited to a congress in Vienna here in Europe and on his return from Vienna he passed through Rome; and it was here in Rome at the General House which at that time was still in via dei Gracchi towards the center of Rome, that he died of cancer and it is from there that he was buried here in this tomb.

4- Fr. Justin ADRIAN (1896 - 1959)

Three years after Father Muijser's funeral, the tomb was used for Father Justin Adrian, also a father who did a lot in Egypt. Fr. Justin Adrian is from the diocese of Strasbourg. He was ordained in 1920. He had a doctorate in theology. He was appointed to Egypt where he did very well; so much so that he was recalled to Europe, to alsace for the new province of alsace which had just been created. He stayed there for a few years. He was also superior in Haguenau; and then afterwards he returned to Egypt. And in Egypt, especially in Choubra where he stayed for many years, he won the admiration of everyone for his dedication, for his knowledge of the environment, for his adaptability to the populations of his very cosmopolitan parish. He has done a lot for young people. He even founded six different groups of the conference of Saint Vincent de Paul. His health was not good, so he decided at one point to return to Alsace. It was then, on the day of his embarkation in Alexandria, that he died. His body was transported to Bari in the southern part of Italy; and from Bari he was brought here to the general house in Rome and from there he was buried here in the African Missions vault in Verano.
Here is another dedicated confrere who has done a lot for the evangelization and growth of the church in Egypt.

5- Bro. Erwino RIEDEL (1899 – 1976)

The penultimate confrere who rests in this tomb here is Brother Erwino RIEDEL. He is of German origin. He was a member of the province of the Netherlands and has spent most of his life here in Rome. He died in 1976 at the age of 77 and I myself have met him a few times here in Rome when I was a seminarian; when I came to Rome to the general house. Brother Erwino was tied to the gatehouse; he has been a porter all his life. First, when there was only the Procure here in Rome; then from 1937, when the general house was transferred here in Rome; and then also in the present house in via della Nocetta. He has always been a porter, as I said. He was known for his generosity; he knew everything about Rome: the addresses where to buy stamps, postcards, where the offices were; every confrere who came here could find in him a precious help. He was also watching over the house; controlling who was coming in and going out; he slept in what is now the small secretariate; 
Some of the rooms in the house been renovated, we gave his name, Brother Erwino, to the small secretariate.
Here is a humble man, who was very reliable and whose memory remains very much alive among us today.

 

6- Fr. Henricus Petrus MONDÉ (26.12.1985)

The last among the six confreres who are buried here is Father Henri Monde. He was superior general. He is the last superior general to die. There are after him 7 superiors general who are still alive. He was a remarkable man; he was a missionary in Ghana; he was provincial in the Netherlands, his province of origin; he was superior general for 15 years. He ended his days staying here in Rome. He died on December 26, 1985. From him we can say that he was a great organizer, a man who spoke fluently many languages. A man who has gone through and overcome many difficulties. It was while he was provincial in the Netherlands that the seminary burned; It was when he was here as superior general in Rome that was celebrated the Council Vatican 2; and it is also thanks to his influence that the “Ad Gentes” decree took shape. With others, he was also at the origin of the creation of Sedos, the association of study and research on missiology which is still very much alive today.

He did not leave much written document; he especially enjoyed talking, conversing, and making friends and relation. With him I would say that the SMA was known and appreciated, especially here in Rome. And with the other superior generals of the missionary institutes, he contributed to the development of the mission and of the knowledge of the missions in the world and here in the Church of Rome. He is a man to be honored. He is a man who also contributed to the development of the SMA. The current General House was built by him. It was he who sold the old house, who bought the land in Via della Nocetta, and built the new house.

 

With him and with all the others we really have different representatives in different places of the mission, of the life and the history of the SMA. May their example be for all of us something that inspires us to do better, to do everything to continue their work, to be faithful to the missionary vocation that we have received.