COMBONI THAT DAY

In Pace Christi

Fr. Grandi Nereo

Born: 18/01/1932
Luogo di Nascita: Altissimo (I)

Voti temporanei: 09/09/1952
Voti perpetui: 09/09/1958
Ordinazione: 14/03/1959

Date of Death: 10/10/2017
Place of Death: Verona (I)

Fr. Nereo was born in Altissimo, Vicenza Province. He joined the Combonis and, immediately after his first profession, was sent to the Sunningdale scholasticate in England. In 1955 he returned from England to study theology at Venegono Superiore and, on March 14, 1959, was ordained priest by the Archbishop of Milan at the time, Mons. Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.

On the day of his ordination – Fr. Angelo D’Apice tells us – he received a special embrace of God. It happened like this: immediately after the celebration, Cardinal Montini spoke to the newly-ordained priests, the oil of chrism still fresh on their hands, who had lined up in the sacristy to thank him, saying: ‘During the night Jesus asked a great sacrifice of one of you, taking his mother to heaven so that the Blessed in heaven could have a great feast in her honour since her son Nereo has become a priest ... like Jesus’. Fr. Nereo’s first solemn Mass had a touch of sadness as he offered it for his mother”.

Without delay he was again sent to England where he spent the next three years, from 1959 to 1962, as formator of the boys in the minor seminary and in pastoral ministry. We may read what he wrote remembering his first ten years as a priest: “In 1959 there were many rumours and plans regarding our missionary assignments. I was supposed to go to Crema, contrary to all expectations: but without knowing exactly what I was to do there. After two uncertain months, I was given my first transfer, to England. I was curate in a parish; I then did a small exam to gain more qualifications. Finally, I was sent to Mirfield to assist a fine group of our Brothers who were busy building a new minor seminary. From 1960 to 1962 I had to teach quite a lot at Mirfield and I had to learn to do mission appeals, English style. Fortunately, my dear friends Frs. Ferracin and Colombo were also in Mirfield so I was among old friends. No one could have foreseen that both of them would become Novice Masters”.

“In 1962 – Fr. Nereo continues – out of the blue came my appointment to Uganda. Again I was in the company of old friends: Frs. Balzarini, Degano and Maffeis. I spent two months at Kasaala, waiting for a definitive appointment: it is sometimes difficult to decide where some odd characters can fit in. In early 1963 I was appointed to Comboni College, Lira, busy every day with hours and hours of teaching. After four years I was declared exhausted and in need of some time at home in Italy to get my strength back!

I was back in Uganda before the end of 1967 and in a short period of time I was curate at Aliwang, parish priest of Aboke and again a teacher in “Fatima Secondary Schoo”l in Lira.

Experience can only be gained personally, often by paying a high price. That is how one becomes rich but feeling one has accomplished nothing! No doubt, staying fixed in a mission with a suitable job to do, and carrying out one’s own programme would be much more satisfying than always having to be a sort of ‘stopgap’. That is not a very nice ‘occupation’, especially not today when there is always talk of dialogue. In the missionary vocation, however, this occupation is often necessary and inevitable. One must be resigned to start again from scratch, never having the satisfaction of any personal achievements. No problem! Forge ahead: do the best you can in the circumstances! All for the Kingdom of God!”

Back in Italy for health reasons, he went first to Brescia where he stayed five years; then to Castel D’Azzano, at the Bro. Alfredo Fiorini Centre. He passed away at the hospital of Borgo Trento, Verona, on 10 October, 2017.