Honour to Father Bruno Roccaro

Por: Mons. Antonio Rodríguez (padre Tony)

He arrived in Cuba fifty years ago for a management that Msgr. Cesar Zacchi made before the government for two teachers to enter for the seminary in Havana. The other was the unforgettable father René David who died in 2013. They met in Cuba and among them a fraternal priestly friendship arose, they separated, when the Frenchman, already ill, left for his homeland in 2004.
Father Bruno possessed a reluctant Salesian priestly spirituality animated by the quenching of observance that Don Bosco wanted his society to have at the founding dawn. He had been a professor of Baccalaureate Mathematics in Italian schools of the congregation, and he knew little Spanish, but one thing was very clear: to work and to do so to be embodied in this Church that went through some very difficult times. Today I can say, without fear of making mistakes, that he became Cuban, and that is why his remains will rest on this floor.
As a mathematician he went on to explain Philosophy in the branch of Cosmology and Sociology, later he was added the History of Economics. These three things came into his life as a teacher as almost strange, as did the language barrier, which was breaking not without great effort for him and his students. He didn’t refuse anything, he didn’t ask for transfer to other latitudes…
I guess he’d have a hard time adjusting to new life and meals, but he never showed it. I saw him during prayer time, spending long moments on his knees in the chapel. He was a priest who, with an eye on the things of God, had, without straying from it, his feet laid on the earth, because one thing does not exclude the other.
For those first twenty years of his stay in Cuba, the Seminary went one month a year of productive work to the countryside, and Father Bruno, showing his rescientive and surrender, worked with the productivity of the most authentic peasant. He had been a mountaineer and the strength of his bodily complexion evidenced him. Bruno and his inseparable friend, Father David, Saturday after Saturday, went to what would be the Hermanos Ameijeiras hospital to work on its construction, both convinced that this tiny contribution helped the progress of this country. No one could prevent it, either on one side or the other, although criticism was never lacking.
The Cuban Ecclesial Reflection (REC) arrived in 1982, and Father Bruno was appointed responsible for the subcommittee of surveys. His expertise was leading him to become, unintentionally and stripping himself of all prominence, in the soul of the REC and, later, of the Cuban National Ecclesial Meeting (ENEC). You can’t talk about the history of this thoughtful process without mentioning it. In this, as in all the things he did in this Church, he gave urticaria the slightest recognition and praise, which he showed with a bodily gesture of shrinkage and rejection. Thus he received orders from those of us who had been his students until recently, and our mistakes at work amended them with humility and possible solutions. I will never forget when in 1993 I was appointed rector of the seminary, and was introduced to me calling myself “my rector”. In 1995 I received from him the bitter news that the Salesian congregation moved him to the house of Santiago de Cuba, before he had communicated it to Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana. Years later, he returned to Havana and already octogenarian resumed teaching Cosmology at the Seminary.
The last time we chatted was September 20, 2015. He was sitting next to me and wearing a short-sleeved guayabera. He spoke to me with sorrow, not to mention names, of some young Cuban priests who emigrated from the country. He’d say, “They say they can’t live here.” This was told to me by a foreigner who came to work in Cuba, not without much difficulty, and who lived here half a century until his death.
More than twelve years ago, Msgr. Arturo González placed the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice distinction on Father Bruno’s chest and Father Giordano’s. With this only honor he received publicly, dear Father Bruno Roccaro will come down to the holy enlightening land.

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