In Pace Christi

Bro. Schwingshackl Peter

Born: 08/02/1939
Luogo di Nascita: S. Magdalena in Gsies (I)

Voti temporanei: 27/07/1986
Voti perpetui: 19/03/1992

Date of Death: 21/11/2017
Place of Death: Stuttgart (D)

Bro. Peter was born on 8 February 1939 at St. Magdalena in Gsies/Südtirol, the first of four children. When he was two years old his family moved to Bressanone – his father had been offered a job as a carpenter at the diocesan minor seminary in the city – and they settled in Milland. Peter also chose to be a carpenter and did an apprenticeship with Wassermann, a Bressanone craftsman where he developed special skills in repairing and restoring old furniture. All his life he was grateful to his family for having helped him to learn a trade.

From his boyhood, Peter took an active part in the activities of the parish and village of Milland. He became a member of the Cursillo group and this undoubtedly affected his decision to become a missionary. He was also a zealous collaborator of the Catholic Workers Union, a social organisation of South Tyrol, founded by the diocese. He also took part regularly in the meetings and initiatives of the “Movement for Life”.

At the age of 45, Peter decided to join the Comboni Missionaries. His prayer life, his dedication to others and his active participation in the parish and associations were an excellent preparation for the religious and missionary life and helped him to identify without any great difficulty with his new life and responsibilities.

After a few months as a postulant at Milland, in September 1984 he started his novitiate at Mellatz (Germany) and took first vows on 27 July 1986. He then completed two years of religious and theological formation in the Brothers Centre in Quito, Ecuador.

From 1988 to 2004, he worked in the province of Mexico where he was mostly involved in skills training and helped many young people on their way to a better future. He was also given the task of doing the shopping for the community and many shopkeepers, struck by his gentle manner, were always very generous and often donated goods to him.

In his letter offering his condolences, the Provincial of Mexico emphasised that Bro. Pietro left a shining example of availability, enthusiasm and zeal in his work as well as one of simplicity and humility towards his confreres and all who came to know him: he immediately understood when someone needed help. He dedicated himself unreservedly to the poor; he loved his mission and the missionary life and prayed much.

In 2005, Bro. Peter returned to the German-speaking Province and worked in the communities of Mellatz (2005-2009; 2014-2017) and Graz (2009-2014). Everywhere, his confreres appreciated his trustworthiness as an craftsman, as the person looking after the house and as a confrere.

He loved community life, even though he found it hard to converse due his poor hearing. He sometimes experienced difficulties during Mass and community prayers. However, he was open to change and was always interested in the pastoral work of the confreres.

Bro. Peter liked to keep in touch and wrote to a number of confreres, relatives and friends, especially the people of the parish of Milland where he usually spent his summer holidays. During his holidays he would distribute the Holy redeemer Guild calendar, visiting more than 200 families. Those regular visits contributed greatly to the many contacts he had with his parish. When he made his first vows in Mellatz, Germany, a coachload of parishioners arrived for the occasion. Bro. Peter was extremely pleased and often mentioned the fact.

He was ecologically very sensitive and was parsimonious in his use of water and food. He never threw away food, plastic bags or the like. His attention to the environment, the protection of human life and the conservation of the environment was an example to all.

No matter where he went, his favourite place was the community chapel, his true home and sometimes even the place where he took a nap before the Lord!

During his last three years, Bro. Peter lived in Mellatz. Not having felt well for some time, he came to Ellwangen for tests at the hospital. A few days later he was taken to hospital in Stoccard where he died a short time after his arrival. We were all taken by surprise: it seems his death was due to a bout of pneumonia that was not treated immediately.

His remains were taken to Bressanone and interred in the cemetery of Milland on 29 November 2017, a few metres from his paternal home. Many friends and parishioners of Milland took part in the funeral. Representatives of parish associations expressed their gratitude for his good example, his friendship and active collaboration over the course of many years. (Bro. Bruno Haspinger, mccj and Fr. Alois Eder, mccj)