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. 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 five 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.
Fr. Gobbi was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack on June 19, 2011, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. While still able to communicate, he had asked his dear friend and personal secretary, Fr. Quartilio Gabrielli (now the new coordinator of the MMP), to look after things. He wanted to make certain that the message “Be Joyous” (#83, October 18, 1975) would be read at the retreat.
While we all continued to follow the spiritual exercises in Collevalenza, Fr. Gabrielli gave us updates on Fr. Gobbi’s condition that he received several times daily from the hospital chaplain, who is himself a member of the MMP. The news got progressively grim. His heart was failing and fever had set in. Antibiotics were given, but the major organs had begun to shut down.
Fr. Gobbi had told Fr. Gabrielli during that first week of his hospitalization, “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 chaplain has confirmed that no one was in the room at the moment of his death.
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.
We were given the news at about 3:30 PM. Our sorrow was deep, but we had to draw courage from one another and especially from Our Blessed Mother. Very often Fr. Gobbi used to say: “I am not the leader of the MMP; the Blessed Mother is.” And Fr. Gobbi would not want us to be sad. Had he not, the week before his death, told us to meditate on Message #83? “Conquer the temptation of fear, of discouragement, of sadness. Distrust paralyzes your activity and greatly benefits my Adversary. Be serene; be joyful.” (#83no, October 18, 1975)
Early on the morning of June 30, as we prayed the Rosary and were at the fourth Mystery of Light (the Transfiguration), we heard the bells ring out loud and clear upon the arrival of the closed coffin. A solemn funeral Mass was presided by Cardinal Dias with the presence of 300 priests, 20 bishops and many lay people. At 2:00 PM, Fr. Gobbi’s remains departed for Dongo (Como), his birthplace and final resting place in northern Italy’s lake region. A private funeral Mass was held in Dongo 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.
Fr. Gobbi placed everything, including his death, in the hands of the Blessed Mother. He had written in his Spiritual Testament, “As I have consecrated every moment of my life, in the same way I consecrate to the Immaculate Heart of Mary the moment of my passing from earth to Heaven and from time to eternity.” Enclosed you will find a card in memory of Fr. Gobbi, with the entire text of his testament. You may write to us if you wish to have additional copies.
Unity with the Pope
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 with words of great affection and stressed that the second commitment of the MMP is our love, unity and obedience 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.
In his circular letter 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 and with love 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, and exactly as St. Paul describes his life in the 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. At least twice (in 1998 and again in 2011), everything was prepared for the cenacles that Fr. Gobbi had planned to conduct in North America, but he could not come. In prayer, I have asked myself, “Why did the Blessed Mother not allow him to return?” I believe that she is now forcing us to examine ourselves: Am I living out the messages that Mary gave to us through Fr. Gobbi? Do I live in the state of grace? Do I at least participate in a cenacle of prayer? In the Act of Consecration, we “promise to lead those souls with whom we come in contact to a renewed devotion to [Her].” The great Apostles of God come and go. Are we just curious and “lazy” spectators? The least we can do is to offer our prayer, our work and our sufferings for the intentions of Our Blessed Mother, in imitation of the three children of Fatima. Otherwise, when our turn will come, what excuses can we present to our Divine Judge? We must not be like those who follow all sorts of alleged mystics, simply seeking to satisfy their curiosity about future events. Please read the last message given to Fr. Gobbi on December 31, 1997: “All Has Been Revealed to You.” (#604)
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. 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 us, and we should not expect someone else to do Her work. Now it is up to us to lead as many people as possible to the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to multiply cenacles of prayer. 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 the representatives 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 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 was 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 me 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.
International Clergy Retreat
The international retreat in Italy will be held from June 24 – 30, 2012. Fr. Gobbi had called me many times during the past year and, among other things, always asked how many priests from the U.S. were going to the retreat. If interested, please call our office for more information. Since flights are generally less expensive earlier in the year, travel arrangements need to be made as soon as possible.
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.
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.
Many of you ask us to pray for your specific intentions. Please be assured that I remember all of your intentions at Holy Mass.
Your gifts to us are greatly appreciated. I especially want to express my sincere thanks for your very generous response to our last mailing. Many of you gave donations to be used in sponsoring one or more priests to attend the clergy retreats. These priests are very grateful and wish you to know that all of the donors will be in their prayers.
The Marian Movement of Priests in the United States is a non-profit organization with IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. For donations exceeding $250, the IRS requires that we send you a receipt for tax purposes. Otherwise your cancelled check will suffice to claim the deduction on your tax return. We hope you will understand that, due to a reduced staff, we have been unable to acknowledge every donation. Everything is recorded in our database, so please feel free to check with us if you have any concerns about our receipt of your gift. You can also contact us at any time if you need a tax substantiation letter.
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. 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.