Pope Francis sent a letter to Archbishop Jose Maria Arancedo, president of the Argentine Episcopal Conference on the occasion of the beatification of Fr. Jose Gabriel Brochero, known affectionately as “the gaucho priest”, who served the poor and the sick of Argentina.
The Holy Father expressed his joy at the beatification of “this shepherd who had the smell of his sheep.”
“I imagine the good priest Brochero on his mule, travelling along the barren and desolate roads of the two hundred square kilometres that made up his parish, searching for your great-grandparents, your great-great-grandparents, to ask if they needed anything and to invite them to do the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He knew every corner of the parish. He did not stay in the sacristy combing his sheep,” the Pope wrote.
“Fr. Brochero brought Jesus to each family. He would visit them with an image of the Virgin and a prayer book with the Word of God, the things he needed to celebrate Mass each day. They would invite him around to chat, and Brochero would talk to them in a way that everyone understood, that came from his heart, his faith and the love he had for Jesus”.
Reflecting on the significance of Fr. Brochero’s beatification, Pope Francis said that the Argentinian priest was a living embodiment of the Gospel, who worked tirelessly to bring the mercy of God to all.
“He did not stay in the parish office, but instead pressed on, ranging through the parish atop his mule, becoming ill with leprosy, seeking his flock, bringing faith to the street. This is what Jesus wants today: missionary disciples who take faith out onto the streets!,” the Pope said. The Holy Father also stated that Fr. Brochero heeded God’s call to attend to the needs of others and sacrifice his life. Fr. Brochero had contracted leprosy and became blind from the disease.
“Let us allow Brochero to enter today, mule and all, into the homes of our hearts, inviting us to prayer, to the encounter with Jesus; let him deliver us from our bondage so that we too might go out to seek our brother, to touch the flesh of Christ in those who suffer and who need God’s love,” the Pope concluded his letter.