We will have only one Mass in the shrine today, at 10.00 am, which will gather all parishioners and visitors from all over the place, from all outstations and Small Christian Communities, coming as one family to show our love, gratitude and veneration to our Saint Patron who has been with through thick and thin all these past years, interceding for us and protecting us in times of trial and suffering and leading us to God always, as he did while on earth when climbing mountains in Italy. He used to say - Verso l'Alto! To the heights!
I have multitude recollections and memories of how Pier Giorgio helped me and my community throughout these years. Let me share with you just one. Back in 1992, when I was building a new mission in Kiabakari, I was stationed at Zanaki mission, 20 kilometers from Kiabakari, going every day early in the morning by motorcycle to Kiabakari and coming back late in the evening or at night, after finished work of the day. It was dangerous to travel this way daily for more than six month. There were some attempts on my life during that time as some local thugs thought that I was carrying a lot of money on me, and also, motorcycle was a tempting object of desire for them.
I got news of this and tried to travel to Kiabakari changing routes at random. Still, there some snares, traps, dug holes in the road so i could fall in and then it would be easy for those guys to rob me.
Anyway, I took a holy card of Pier Giorgio with a tiny relic in it and put in my breast pocket of the shirt. I told Pier Giorgio: 'If you want this parish of yours to be done, you better keep an eye on me and let me finish the business safely!' And this is precisely what he did. He protected me and all those planned attempts on my life and my rucksack and motorcycle were all in vain. Thank you, Pier Giorgio!
As a token of my gratitude to him, I dedicated our pastoral center to him - calling it 'The House of Eight Beatitudes'. Then the health center I named after him also. He is a Man of the Beatitudes, as Holy Father John Paul II called him in the beatification homily back in May 1990. And he truly is a blessing in my life and the life of Kiabakari Parish.
Pier Giorgio, pray for us!