Bro. Agostino Stocco passed away on Monday 26 September 2005 in our house in Milan where for four years he had suffered from the consequences of a stroke that had paralysed his face.
Having completed the fifth elementary class on 21 April 1951, on 4 October of the same year he was already in the apostolic school at Thiene, preparing to become a missionary Brother.
On 10 September 1954 he entered the novitiate in Florence where Fr. Giovanni Giordani was novice master. The latter found the newcomer “attentive and diligent in his duties, attached to his vocation, charitable, well-balanced, faithful, sincere and humble.”
After spending nine months in Florence, Bro. Agostino was sent to Sunningdale, England, to complete his period of novitiate and to learn English. At first he underwent such a serious crisis that he wanted to go back home; but then, as Fr. Guido De Negri wrote, “he recovered and is making a good progress. He is punctual in everything and seems happy.” On 9 September 1956 he took his first vows. On 15 January 1957 Bro. Agostino was already in the mission. He was 20 years old.
Bro. Agostino’s first appointment was to Kitgum, in Uganda, where on 26 November 1961 he took his perpetual vows, after just five years of temporary vows. The reason for this is explained by Fr. Igino Albrigo who wrote: “Since Bro. Agostino has now been working for a year renovating the old church of Kitgum and is doing a magnificent job, I would like him to take his perpetual vows on the opening and consecration of the church, something which he greatly desires.” And so it was.
After his first holidays and a period of rest in Italy (1965-1967), he returned to Uganda where he was assigned to the mission of Kalongo. He worked alongside Fr. Giuseppe Ambrosoli, enlarging and looking after the maintenance of the hospital. Though he worked tirelessly, he always put prayer first. In the morning he was in church doing his meditation and, during the day, he never omitted either the visit to the Blessed Sacrament or praying the rosary.
In 1972 he was appointed to Nairobi procure, but this job lasted just a short while as he was not suitable for it. He was then sent to Kampala as assistant to the procurator. His health, however, had begun to fail and he had to return more than once to Italy for treatment.
On 30 August 1988 he was again in Kalongo as general technician of the hospital. The smooth running of the hospital, as regards maintenance and labour, depended on him. On 17 April 1992 he received a “life residence permit” from the Ugandan department of immigration.
At the age of 62 Bro. Agostino suffered a cerebral stroke and was taken to Nairobi Hospital. At the end of August he underwent surgery.
In 1998 he returned to Milan, Italy, for further medical tests. After a period of intensive treatment he felt better and insisted on being sent back to Uganda, the country that had become his world. He obtained the permission to go back and was appointed to the provincial house in Kampala, in charge of maintenance and guests. It was then that Bro. Agostino showed his gift of hospitality: he was always ready and available so that the visiting confreres would feel comfortable.
In 2001 he returned for good to Milan, Italy, where he began a long period of suffering. Here he passed away on 26 September 2005. On hearing of his death, Fr. Teresino Serra, the Superior General, at that time visiting the delegation of Asia, wrote to the confreres of Milan and of Uganda: “Together with the General Council, I wish to be united with you all on this particular occasion, when Bro. Agostino has left us to go and take the place prepared for him by the Lord. I wish I could be with you in thanking God for the gift of the missionary vocation of Bro. Agostino. In 44 years of profession and 42 of tireless service in the mission of God in Uganda, he lived the parable of the grain of wheat immersed in the life of the most needy of all people and, recently, in the Comboni life of the “hidden stone”, which one cannot see, but which is precious in the sight of God. I am certain that God and Comboni are pleased with him. May his witness and his communion with us as Comboni Brother obtain graces and vocations for the Institute and for the Church in Uganda. I always carry you with me to the altar and I thank you for the strength you give me by your example and your communion in prayer.”
Da Mccj Bulletin n. 230 suppl. In Memoriam, aprile 2006, pp. 6-12.