Saturday, July 16, 2011
Dear Friends in Jesus and Mary,
By now, most of you have heard that the Blessed Mother came to take our dear Fr. Stefano Gobbi to Heaven. Following his heart attack in Milan on June 19, 2011, the Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity, he told his secretary, Fr. Quartilio Gabrielli (now the new coordinator of the MMP): “I feel that the Blessed Mother is going to come and take me while I will be alone in the hospital, as Blessed Jacinta was alone in the hospital when Mary came to take her.” The hospital chaplain, himself a member of the MMP, has confirmed that no one was in the room when he died.
Nothing happens by chance; everything comes from God’s Providence. The International MMP Retreat was held from June 26 – July 2, 2011 at the Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza, Italy. It is very significant that the Blessed Mother came to take Fr. Gobbi while 300 Priests and 20 Bishops – representatives of the MMP from all 5 continents – were gathered together. And it most certainly is a sign from Heaven that Fr. Gobbi fell ill exactly one week before the retreat began, and that he died in the hospital in Milan at 3:00 PM on Wednesday, June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the midpoint of our retreat.
We were given the news at about 3:30 PM. Around 2:55 PM, as I was beginning to recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, I thought, “If Fr. Gobbi is dying, this is the best prayer for him.” Right after this, I felt very strongly his presence in my room, before I knew that he had passed away precisely at that hour.
The day of his death also coincided with the 60th anniversary to the priesthood of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. Our Blessed Mother must have accepted the sacrifice of Fr. Gobbi for the Pope and for the unity of the Church. In every cenacle, he always prayed for the Holy Father and stressed that the second commitment of our membership in the MMP is our love and unity with the Pope. When Benedict XVI heard about the death of Fr. Gobbi from Cardinal Ivan Dias, the Holy Father said, “He went straight to Heaven.”
In the second volume of his book, “Jesus of Nazareth”, Pope Benedict XVI talks about Jesus’ vicarious suffering for our sins. The Holy Father gave the example of Moses who also suffered vicariously because of the sins of his people, suffering to the extent that he could not enter the Promised Land but could only see it from a distance. In the same way, the Blessed Mother needed the sacrifice of Fr. Gobbi at this time, but he too was allowed to see the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from a distance, through his exceptionally well attended cenacles throughout the world.
On June 30, Fr. Gobbi’s body was taken to Collevalenza where a solemn funeral Mass was presided by Cardinal Dias with the presence of 300 priests, 20 bishops and many lay people.
A private funeral Mass was held in Dongo (Como), Italy on July 2, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the First Saturday of the month. The week’s events were remarkable and unforgettable.
In his circular of January 1, 2011, Fr. Gobbi quoted from a talk that he gave in Fatima in 2010. It seems that he had predicted his departure from us. He wrote, “But this year an extraordinary event occurred. On May 12, here in this Cova da Iria, before You, the Holy Father Benedict XVI consecrated all of the priests of the world to your Immaculate Heart. Therefore with this consecration, it seems as if my task might be finished and that my journey would have come to an end.” (Fatima, October 25, 2010)
Fr. Gobbi’s personal mission has been accomplished. Having just finished conducting cenacles throughout Italy and the rest of Europe, he literally gave his life working tirelessly for the mission that was entrusted to him by the Blessed Mother. He did this to the very end as did Pope John Paul II. As St. Paul says in his Second Letter to Timothy: “My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, the second reading for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul – the day of Fr. Gobbi’s death)
How Should We Interpret This Sad Event?
It should be a wake up call for all of us. The Blessed Mother is now forcing us to examine ourselves and to ask: “Am I living out the messages that she gave to us through Fr. Gobbi? Do I live in the state of grace? Do I at least participate in a cenacle of prayer?”
Now that we are all consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a new and more important task begins for us: to live this consecration desired by Jesus and his Mother! From Heaven, Fr. Gobbi can help us even more; therefore, his death should not cause us to fear or to doubt. Rather, be convinced that the MMP will live on through us! In many of her messages, the Blessed Mother tells us, “The MMP is my work alone.” Through our consecration, she is relying on each one of us to help her. She has a particular mission for each one of us, and we should not expect someone else to do the work to which she is calling us. Now it is up to all of us to lead as many people as possible to the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to multiply cenacles of prayer. She has placed each of us where she wants us to be, and we all form part of her plan. In 1977, she told Fr. Gobbi:
“I shall place each one of you at his proper post. Each one must look only to doing his own part well. For the rest, do not concern yourself or be preoccupied about it. It is for me to arrange everything according to the plan prepared long ago by my Immaculate Heart, in the light of the wisdom of God.” (April 29, 1977, 126ef)
A Worldwide Pledge to Continue this Work
The feeling among all of the leaders of the MMP from all over the world who were gathered in Collevalenza was that the Blessed Mother used these events as a sign that she wanted each one of us to make a commitment to continue the work initiated by Father Gobbi. If we really want to help the Blessed Mother to accomplish the task given to Her by God Himself, then we all must carry out the work for the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart. This thought was clearly conveyed by the Cardinal and the Bishops who presided our liturgies during the retreat.
2011 Cenacle Schedule
And so here we are. I felt very strongly that the Blessed Mother wanted us to hold as many cenacles as possible that were planned for Fr. Gobbi in Canada and the U.S. during the fall of this year. Since I had already prepared to accompany Fr. Gobbi as his interpreter, I will therefore be conducting many of these cenacles in the U.S. as originally scheduled. The complete itinerary is included with this letter.
I am grateful to all those who have given of their time and talents in organizing these cenacles. The news of Fr. Gobbi’s death was sudden and unexpected, and many of these wonderful apostles of Our Lady agreed to move forward with the plans that were already in place. To them, I say thank you! May Our Lady Herself reward you!
And now I invite all of you to make an effort to attend one of these gatherings – most especially because Our Lady wishes us to participate in cenacles, but also in memory of Fr. Gobbi who had planned this visit to the United States. With our cenacles, we will form “a great net of salvation” (375g), “a great net of love that will envelop and save the whole world!” (192s)
Cenacles in 2012
I plan to conduct cenacles in the U.S. during the month of May 2012. Please contact us no later than January if you are interested. You can also contact the office if you wish to schedule a cenacle at any other time during the year.
40th Anniversary of the MMP
It was on May 8, 1972, while he was praying in the Chapel of the Apparitions at Fatima, that the Mother of God impressed upon Fr. Gobbi her desire that he start the Marian Movement of Priests. May 8, 2012 will mark its 40th anniversary.
U.S. Clergy Retreat
There is still time to make your reservation to attend the clergy retreat in Effingham, IL from Oct. 10-14, 2011, led by Fr. Francis Geremia with the assistance of Fr. Andrew Goodwin and Fr. Charles Becker. The retreat is open to priests, deacons, and major seminary students. If you are interested, please contact us to request a registration packet. You can request financial assistance from us if you need help in covering the hotel cost for the week’s room and board (approx. $575). There is no additional charge for the retreat itself.
International Clergy Retreat
The international retreat in Italy will be held from June 24 – 30, 2012. Due to the generosity of some of our MMP members, we will be able to offer financial assistance to bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians who need help in covering their travel expenses. This will be given on a first come, first served basis. If interested, please call our office no later than the middle of January. Since flights are generally less expensive earlier in the year, travel arrangements need to be made as soon as possible. If you are able, we would ask you to pay for room and board at the retreat house which is approximately US $650 (varies with exchange rate).
I invite our members to consider sponsoring a priest to attend the international retreat. Your donations for this purpose would be greatly appreciated, and they would serve as a wonderful gift to help a priest in need. You can also help by informing your pastors and even your bishops about the retreat. Let them know that, if they cannot afford the trip, we may be able to offer assistance.
As I continue to become better acquainted with the priests in the U.S., I will be asking some of them to assume a role of leadership in conducting cenacles on a regional level. If any of you priests wish to offer your services in being a part of this mission as entrusted to Fr. Gobbi, please contact me. I will pray that Our Lady inspire many of you.
We Should Multiply our Cenacles
On the vigil of Fr. Gobbi’s journey to North America in 1994, Our Blessed Mother told him, and also indirectly those who organize cenacles:
“Entrust to the angels of light of my Heart all that has to do with this new itinerary of yours. They will carry you on their wings and will keep watch lest you strike your foot against any obstacle. Oh, in your days, how beautiful are the feet of those who announce peace, of those who spread the good news of salvation and of the triumph of divine mercy! You must be these announcers of peace. You must be today vigilant sentinels upon the mountains of confidence and hope.” (August 28, 1994, #525cd)
Because of the advanced age of its members, some cenacles are growing smaller and smaller. Remember that it takes only two people to have a cenacle. The Blessed Mother needs us! In Heaven we will understand. Therefore let us persevere, so that when the Lord and the Blessed Mother come, they will find us ready to welcome them.
New on Our Website (www.mmp-usa.org)
Conferences given at the MMP International Clergy Retreats
Some of the talks that I gave in Collevalenza, Italy, during the past years have been posted under “National Director’s Corner”. Fr. Gobbi had reviewed all of these and approved of their content. He was present when they were given.
In closing, I wish to thank everyone for their expressions of sympathy on the occasion of Fr. Gobbi’s death. Many of you called, sent cards, prayed rosaries, gathered in special cenacles, held holy hours and prayer services in his memory, and had Masses celebrated for the repose of his soul. We appreciate all of your prayers and kindness during this difficult time.
I especially ask for your prayers as I go out to conduct cenacles in various cities across the country. I look forward to meeting many of you!
Most sincerely in Jesus and Mary,
Fr. Francis Geremia, c.s.