It is not easy to express, in a few words, WHO Ramón Zubieta is for me, even though his life and his way of doing mission touches my “soul” and challenges our mission day after day.

Looking inward, I feel that the person and the missionary are inseparable. His great human qualities, which he knew how to cultivate so well, which he used up to the last drop in his missionary work.

I have no better words to describe his figure than to say how I see and feel him: A Man of God, with a Great Heart, who deeply understood that life is given to the ultimate consequences, as the Centenary slogan sums up: A LOVE WITHOUT MEASURE.

To quote Fr Osende:

But what stands out in his life as a Missionary is his audacity, his ability to face risk, his courage in defending the rights of the people, of those trampled and mistreated people, whom he wanted to provide with all the resources he knew, to help them escape from their situation of slavery. He put all his efforts into education, the main motor of all development, especially for women, whom he saw from the first hour as the cornerstone of his project of integral evangelisation.: “he who educates a woman educates a nation” (R.Z.)

“Ramon was a colossus of stature and the heart of a tender and humble father”: He knew how to lower himself to the level of the children, he played with them in their games; his affection of “father and mother, at the same time, with the sisters” (M.A.); the empathy and closeness so great with the natives of the forest that he quickly made them believe that he was coming to them, on behalf of God, to bring them the Good News…. “I told them that I was a messenger from God, that I did not come looking for gold or silver, nor did I come asking for anything; I just wanted to visit them and tell them how happy they could be.”. (R.Z.)

And this was the innovative dynamic that made him the intrepid missionary, who was more than a century ahead in language and methodology of what is today the slogan of our Pope Francis…

When we read today the encyclicals “The Joy of the Gospel” and “Tuttis Fratelli” we feel the life and mission of our Father Founder reflected in them.

“The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus” (EG1) and then Pope Francis says what shepherds who truly give their lives for the flock must be like: “They must smell the sheep (EG24). And if we continue with Tuttis Fratelli, in no. 106 we see what was the deep conviction of Ramón Zubieta’s action:

That in these complicated times in which we live, in which we experience not only fragility, but also the inability to make many plans for the future, let us not allow ourselves to be overcome by inertia and, following the example of our Father Founder, in no less difficult times and when nothing was clear, he knew how to open up paths that generated life.

Inocência Costa, Mozambique

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