So a lot have been said already about our founder that it is not easy to say something new. In reading his teaching on the SPRITUAL LIFE BOOK, which is a collection of conferences that he used to give to his future Consolata Missionaries, on Sunday afternoon in casa madre. Here in this book we find a real fountain of human and spiritual wisdom that, as Consolata Missionaries, we have found to apply in our daily life.
I always like to compare our founder to a diamond in the hands of a professional diamond cutter. A diamond, when found in the soil, is raw, no beauty. But if properly cut, it becomes a shining jewel where, every face gives out a different shining colour of light. Very attractive to see it.
I compare these various shining faces of the diamond to the various heroic virtues of the Blessed Joseph Allamano. In the life of the founder the professional cutter is the lord, who pruned him to produce more precious fruit, so as to shine more to His glory. Alas! Pruning and cutting are always painful processes and we know it by experience.
Where did Blessed Allamano shine more brightly?
1) In obedience.
Obedience to his superiors, that is, the pope, his diocesan bishop, Propaganda fide.
2) In self-denial.
He always desired to become a parish priest of a small village. Instead he was put parish priest of the FIRST parish of Turin Diocese, that is, The Major Seminary and convitto eclesiastico. His bishop told him: “I give you the very first parish of the diocese” and you go there by obedience. Here, it is where many other priest failed. Foundation of two missionary congregation, again by way of obedience.
3) Poverty and trust in Divine Providence.
When he objected to his bishop about the cost of the Missionary Foundation, the bishop replied: First put your money and the rest will come. So it happened.
4) Intense prayer life.
He was put to the test several times by many difficulties but, always overcame them. How? By long hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Telling Him and Our Lady Consolata the unsolvable problems he was facing. Here he got the strength to go on. (Suffering in silence.)
5) Gentleness. His Trade Mark!
Gentleness dealing with his Missionaries, young and old, gentleness with people working with him and for him: gentleness with opponents. Extra gentleness and paternal affection dealing with brothers leaving home, work, honours to go to mission land (Kenya). With his gentleness he attracted many vocations. He made peace where there was discord.
Still about gentleness, as many letters from various missionaries testify, he was a real father who first cared for their material needs and soon followed their spiritual needs, that is, to become a saint(s) quickly a saint(s) and great saint(s). This he wanted us, to repeat in our hearts frequently.
COLLABORATIORS OF THE FOUNDER
The founder had a good spirit of selection. He chose able and faithful collaborators. The first of these was the co-founder Can. Giacomo Camisassa: intelligent, quick, practical. A man with a strong well and never tired to work for the mission. He thus help the founder and served the mission till death took him away. And the founder passed his last years quite lonely. I WOULD BE PLEASE TO HAVE HIM CANONIZED ONE DAY.
The other collaborators were in particular the first missionaries to Kenya, Fr. Perlo, Fr. Gays, Br. Celeste Lusso, Br. Luigi Falda and all the others. The lifeline between the missionaries and the founder, were the daily diaries sent to him by the first missionaries. He attentively read them. Then giving them orders, directives, encouragements.
NOW WE MAY SE BRIEFLY THE CONSOLATA BROTHERS IN THE MIND OF BLLESSED JOSEPH ALLAMANO
Let us be intent on this blessing of God, that is, to have the brother vocation and to be a brother. Why do I say ‘to be a brother’ because I saw many with this vocation who later on, they rejected it. Let us see which road can lead us to the fulfilment of this vocation. A vocation which I and many others, love very much: more than any vocation.
In turning the early pages of our mission history, what was it that caused the founder to send the first group of missionaries and nearly all the groups that followed, with bothers to work in the mission field, along with priests and sisters. We find the answer on the SPIRITUAL LIFE BOOK page 37. But this time I take the answer from the letter of the co-founder to Brothers (Dr. Benetto Falda) in Tusu. The letter was approved by the founder and sounds like this: “Be convinced of this, you brothers are real missionaries in your work as carpenters builders, farmers and other professions. But what is required of you is to work with a spirit of faith, willingly, joyfully. Agreeing with a one another in one accord. Always intent to give good example. (St. Peter and Paul also called first Christians to these ideals) consider yourselves fortunate to make your good example a continuous sermon to those local young men working with you, even though it is a material work the one you do. (Then he still adds) I feel envious not to be there with you brothers”.
The founder wrote several letters to many brothers in his lifetime. Always encouraging them: materially and morally. Reminding them the great good they do in teaching local young people to learn a trade, ( with the authority of knowledge and a saintly life).
The brothers still in casa madre (consolatina) were spiritually formed by the Allamano at Consolata Shrine in his office. Professionally, they were formed by the co-founder (which I would like to see him canonized) who provided technical teachers and workshop, where to learn a trade suitable and useful to the mission demands.
THE FIRST BROTHERS IN THIS SEMINARY
Br. Guido Grosso, to whom our carpentry workshop is entitled, used to go from casa madre to Porta Palazzo (Baloon) for food provisions on the return journey he used to stop at Consolata Shrine for mass and meditation. There, he and his brother companion, were happy to stop because, the founder was meeting them. Always with something to eat and encouraging them to persevere. The founder and co-founder took great care in the formation of brothers in view of the great good they could do with their work.
About the recruitment of brother vocations Blessed Allamano followed the directives of the congregation of Religious Life in Rome. These directives are valid for aspirant brothers and aspirant priest alike (even today). Before being accepted in the Congregation the Superiors and formators must investigate that they are not sick: bodily and mentally, that they do not have relatives with mental problems, willing to learn and of good conduct even before entering as aspirants.
It is not enough to be pious and contemplative. The aspirants must acquire knowledge and sanctity as well, to be of use in the mission. At the same time, we brothers, cannot be perpetual FORMAL STUDENTS, but we must learn many things by ourselves, how? At the expense of our free time. Someone may object saying: it is difficult, all right! Start with easy things and difficult things will come later. (Here I speak by experience). So did the majority of those missionaries that went to the missions.
The Founder was like a good father towards priest’s students and brothers aspirants alike but, I would say he had a special predilection for brothers, I do not know why, but being himself a simple person with straight forward way of reasoning, he liked people with same attitude. We brothers usually do not follow sophisticated reasoning: what is yes is yes and what is no is no. and that is the end of it, he understood that we do not have many consolations, apart doing a good job. We need encouraging words to remind us the good we do to others and for our souls. The reward we will have in heaven will be great.
Perlo was a very dynamic person to such an extent that the founder invites him to have greater prudence and to be generous in particular with the sisters, open your hands and also make sure that, sisters in particular, have a glass of wine at each meal. All sisters working in Thuthu were sick. The end of this frenetic life imposed by Fr. Perlo (partly due to the arrival of protestant missionaries in Kikuyu land, which he, monsignor Allgeyer and the founder wanted to stop at any cost ). The end result now after 100 years, was the preaching of Christ I a faster age, from Nairobi, Thuthu, Muranga, Nyeri, Meru up to Ethiopia. GOD IS ABLE TO TURN BAD INTO GOOD.
Brothers that joined the congregation: 1901 to 1906 joined 16 and those persevered 3
1907 to 1926 joined 82 and those persevered 26,
The white fathers and brother’s way of doing in Uganda influenced greatly the recruitment of Consolata Brothers by the founder because of great good they were doing in Uganda.
I conclude with the words of St. Anthioc and then the Founder.” wherever we are appointed to work, there we represent the mind of Christ, just as Christ represent the mind of the father, who is in heaven. This is why our conduct must correspond to the one of Christ: publicly and privately. During the day and during the night, during resting and in activity.”
During our daily meditation we have go to look at the perfect life requested from missionary as presented to us by our Founder in his conferences on formation, (in casa madre in particular). His teaching is still active, even today, it is found in the book SPIRITUAL LIFE. We must read it to see how far or how near we are from spiritual perfection as asked of us Consolata Missionaries.
Blessed Allamano, writing to Br. Benedetto Falda, says: OUR MISSION WORK WILL GO AHEAD AND PROSRER BECAUSE IT IS THE WORK OF OUR LADY CONSOLATA, EVEN IF SOME LEAVES FALL, THE TREE IS BLESSED BY THE POPE AND WILL PROSPER AND GROW TALL. Blessed is he who resist the temptation to go and, perseveres and presses on, he will see marvellous result. And we see these result today, let us bless and thank God for all the good done by our fathers, sisters and brothers.