We have just received the joyful news that Pope Francis has approved the beatification of another son of Saint Eugene, Father Mario Borzaga OMI and his lay catechist Paul Thoj Xyooj, killed in hatred of the faith in Laos in April 1960.
Born in Trent (Italy), 27 August 1932, Mario entered the diocesan seminary to be a priest. During that time a visiting Oblate came to the seminary to speak about missionary life, and Mario understood that God was calling him to becoming an Oblate missionary.
He made his perpetual oblation on 21 November 1956 and wrote:
“I have understood my vocation:
to be a happy man,
even in the effort to identify myself
with the Crucified Christ”
Ordained Priest on 24 February 1957, he wrote to the Superior General of the Oblates:
“I want to tell you, first of all, of my joy for having achieved the priesthood in the bosom of the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate; a joy so alive at this moment being ordained few days ago. With regards to my future religious life, I am at your complete disposition. If however I am permitted to express my desire, I ask humbly to be sent a missionary in Laos. I do not want to completely presume of my strengths and therefore, conscious of my weakness and insufficiency, I entrust myself completely to your prudent judgment”.
Letter to Fr. Leo Dechâtelets OMI, Superior General, 2 March 1957
Sent out as a missionary to Laos (South East Asia), on 31 October 1957, he wrote in his diary:
“We missionaries are made to be this: to leave is a normality, to go is a necessity! Tomorrow the roads will be our homes; and if we shall be compelled to anchor ourselves into a home, we will transform it into a road that leads to God”.
From his personal diary, 1957
His brief existence – he was never to reach his 28th birthday – came to an end in the solitude of the forest, along a track in the mountainside, while he was returning from an apostolic journey with his catechist. They were put to death by a group of communist guerrillas, thus interrupting forever on this earth, the marvelous dream of this young missionary, but fulfilling his dream of making of his life a total oblation – the highest destiny of a son of Eugene de Mazenod, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate who understood the implications of bearing this name.