Francesco Saverio Seelos: Una vita al servizio degli ammalati

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Domenica 5 ottobre, i Redentoristi in tutto il mondo celebrano la festa del Beato Francesco Saverio Seelos, (1819-1867)

Scala News offre in questa occasione una riflessione inviata da Padre Seán Cannon, C.Ss.R. professore emerito della Accademia Alfonsiana a Roma.

Beato Francesco Saverio Seelos

Sabato scorso abbiamo avuto notizia del bombardamento dell’ospedale in Afghanistan e la morte non soltanto di pazienti ma anche di alcuni membri del gruppo Medici senza frontiere. Questo gruppo di volontari è diventato famoso perché i membri prestano servizio nei posti più difficili e pericolosi del mondo. Non è la prima volta che alcuni di loro hanno sacrificato la vita nel servizio agli ammalati e alle vittime di guerra e conflitti. Il loro servizio eroico per i più abbandonati  merita l’ammirazione del mondo, anziché la violenza degli uomini di guerra e dei militari.

Oggi noi redentoristi festeggiamo un confratello che ha anche dato la sua vita per i malati nella città di New Orleans negli Stati Uniti d’America nel lontano 1867, il Beato Francesco Saverio Seelos. I redentoristi sono arrivati nell’anno 1843 nella città di New Orleans nel cosiddetto” Deep South”.  I primi redentoristi erano di origine tedesca ed austriaca e dovettero dapprima prestare assistenza agli emigrati di lingua tedesca che erano arrivati numerosi nella città costruita  sulla riva del fiume Mississippi. Poi arrivarono migliaia di profughi irlandesi. Quelli di origine francese abitavano già nel cosiddetto  Quartiere Francese. Ogni gruppo etnico voleva sentire le prediche e celebrare la liturgia nella sua lingua materna,  Così  sono state costruite 3 chiese , 3 scuole, due conventi, due orfanotrofi, tutti nella stessa area geografica e una casa redentorista al servizio di tutti.

Inoltre la città di New Orleans era una città malsana. In particolare la piaga della febbre gialla appariva regolarmente e a quel tempo non esisteva una cura medica efficace contro tale malattia così contagiosa.  Durante i trent’anni dal 1848 fino al 1878, la febbre gialla fece la sua visita fatale quasi ogni anno e durante quel periodo i redentoristi hanno prestato un servizio eroico oltre i limiti agli ammalati, ai moribondi. Molti di loro sono rimasti vittime della piaga e hanno sacrificato la loro vita nel servizio alla popolazione stremata. Tra le vittime dell’anno 1867 c’era il Beato Francesco Saverio Seelos, morto per la febbre gialla nella giovane età di 48 anni. Aveva chiesto ai superiori nel 1855 di inviarlo alla casa di New Orleans, ma il suo desiderio fu accolto solo nel 1866. Passò poco più di un anno lì prima di morire in fama di santità. La sua morte è stata coerente col suo modo di vivere. La sua santità era già evidente molto prima della sua morte.

Siamo fieri di celebrare oggi la testimonianza valorosa del P. Seelos e dei suoi compagni . Il loro generoso servizio, fino al sacrificio supremo della loro vita, dovrebbe spronarci a seguire l’esempio della loro generosità nelle circostanze della nostra vita redentorista. Accettando la vocazione alla Congregazione questi uomini non hanno potuto prevedere le sfide riservate loro dal Signore, ma con l’abbondanza della sua grazia hanno dato una risposta splendida e meritato una corona di gloria.  Condividiamo con loro la stessa chiamata alla santità.

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