BROTHER GINO, APOSTLE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA
In Italy there now lives a brother of the Congregation of the
Oblates of the Virgin Mary, who has helped many people to know how to apply the
Message of Fatima in their lives in the Twentieth Century. His name is Brother
Gino, and in the following article we quote him many times when he talks about
living the Message of Fatima. In addition to the edifying effect of his
spiritual counsels and the example of his holy life, God seems to be teaching
us another thing through the special gifts He has given this brother.
People who have a knowledge of theology and who have known
Brother Gino agree that God has a special purpose for giving us this Brother in
the Twentieth Century. One of the signs of the times today is the prevalence of
atheism and materialism, where people live as though there were no God and
where at times it seems whole nations forget that there is a God Who created
all things and to Whom we are answerable for what we do. By giving to the
Church in the Twentieth Century such a holy man, God seems to be showing us
that Christ is real, the Catholic Faith is real, and that Christ is still with
us. God hasn't forgotten us even though so many of us forget Him.
Brother Gino has a great devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, and he
has built a large shrine in Her honor at San Vittorino, near Rome, Italy. He
sees the importance of the Fatima Message in our times, and explains (as Pope
John Paul II says), Fatima is a reaffirmation of the Gospels. Our Lady of
Fatima told us how to apply the teachings of Christ to our lives in the
Brother Gino was born on July 7, 1932 in a small farming town
called Gambassi, near Florence, in Italy. He is the eldest child of Angelo and
Blandina Burresi. From an early age, as his mother noticed, he showed great
charity for others and an unusual degree of devotion to God and the Blessed
Mother. At the early age of 14 he joined the Congregation of the Oblates of the
Virgin Mary, and made his perpetual vows in 1956.
Saved American Soldiers
During World War II there was much crisis and sorrow for Italy,
as there was for the rest of the world. Brother Gino was about nine years old
at the time. Previous to the takeover by the American soldiers, Brother Gino
helped to save the lives of several American soldiers who had been taken
prisoner by certain German soldiers who intended to kill them.
Gino said to his father, "Those Germans intend to kill the
Americans. It is not right to kill those many young men. You must free them."
Angelo Burresi replied to his boy, "It is too dangerous. The
fence which surrounds the prison camp is electrified."
Gino said, "Father, do not worry. I will pray to the Blessed
Mother. You go ahead and free those soldiers. Nothing will happen to you."
The boy Gino kept insisting until Angelo Burresi, together with
his cousin, went to see what they could do. They cut the wire and helped the
young prisoners to escape.
Angelo next called several Italian families together and came to
an understanding with them that the American soldiers would be kept hidden from
the Germans. These families would see that sufficient food was given to the
Americans. Gino was assigned to represent the Burresis by carrying food to the
American young men. It was necessary to pass the German soldiers to reach the
hiding Americans, and at times Gino had much difficulty, as he had to make
several river crossings.
His mother Blandina Burresi had taught him to pray in the
following way when he was afraid: "Jesus, Mary, Joseph, accompany me along the
way." And she had given him a Rosary and taught him to say it. Armed with these
prayers Gino passed safely through the Germans and brought food to the American
soldiers in their place of hiding. This whole incident was very heroic, as all
who were involved in freeing, hiding, and feeding the American soldiers may
well have been shot by the German soldiers if they were discovered.
Early Years as a Brother
On December 10, 1946, when Gino was fourteen years old, he
entered the Oblates of the Virgin Mary as an aspirant. On February 13, 1950, he
entered the novitiate. He wanted to be a brother. Since he was very talented
and intelligent, his parents and superiors didn't understand why he didn't
aspire to be a priest. Brother Gino was trying to do God's will above all, and
he thought God wanted him to be a brother. He was happy to do the humble work
of a brother, teaching catechism, visiting the sick, helping the poor, and
looking after the cleaning of the churches where he was working at different
times. After many years Brother Gino resumed his studies for the priesthood. In
1979 he was ordained a deacon, which is the major order which precedes
ordination to the priesthood. Brother Gino, by his prayers and example, has
drawn many young men to come to the Oblate Seminary at Our Lady of Fatima's
shrine at San Vittorino.
The Oblates of the Virgin Mary
The Oblates of the Virgin Mary is a Congregation founded by
Venerable Pio Bruno Lanteri, a humble Italian priest who lived in the troubled
times during and after the French Revolution. When Bruno Lanteri was just a
little boy of four years old, his mother died, and his father was left looking
after a large family of young children. Bruno's father took him to the parish
church, and there before the altar of Our Lady he said to his son: "You no
longer have a mother here on earth. From now on, the Blessed Virgin will be
your Mother. Love Her as your true Mother."
When Bruno Lanteri was in Turin studying for the priesthood,
everywhere there was influence of the false doctrines of the Jansenists. Jansen
taught in effect that human nature was completely corrupted by original sin and
that we don't have a free will and he taught the false doctrine of
predestination. These heresies caused people to lack trust in God's mercy and
goodness. Heated controversies over the false doctrines occurred in theological
circles. Bruno Lanteri however continued in his devotion to the Mother of God,
who, as the Catholic Church says, is the destroyer of all heresies, and Bruno's
prayers were answered, and he was saved from the errors of the Jansenists. Just
before receiving the diaconate, Bruno Lanteri consecrated himself in a special
way into the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary (in 1781), in a similar manner as
the offering of St. Louis de Montfort.
While studying for the priesthood, Bruno Lanteri worked among
the poor in Turin. As a priest, he constantly encouraged others to have loyalty
to the Holy Father. "It is a question of the unity, of the center, of the
foundation of the faith," he said. When Pope Pius VII was imprisoned at Savona
(1809 -1812), then at Fontainebleau during the Napoleonic era in the hope that
the Pope might give in to the Emperor who wanted control over Pope and bishops,
it was Father Lanteri who, during these years, managed to get secret documents
into the hands of the Pope which His Holiness in turn used to overcome
Napoleon's plans to rule the Church.
Father Lanteri was devoted to spreading Catholic teaching
through the diffusion of good Catholic literature. He also published pamphlets
giving the Catholic Church's teachings regarding news events of the day, to
alert the faithful, to clarify the issues and to give encouragement.
Father Lanteri found others to help him to help invalids and the
sick and the poor and the imprisoned. One of the tasks of the order he founded
was the formation and sanctification of the clergy. For this, Father Lanteri
gave retreats using the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola, and he
encouraged souls to consecrate themselves totally to God through the hands of
Mary. In speaking of his religious order, he would say, "I am not the Founder.
The Founder is Our Lady." And he directed his Oblates to be apostles of Mary as
well as personally consecrating themselves to God through Mary, because as he
said, "In order to bring souls to God it is necessary to make them pass through
the hands of Mary."
The Oblates look to Saint Thomas Aquinas as their teacher of
dogmatic theology, and Saint Alphonsus Liguori is their teacher in moral
Their Rule says that the Oblates of the Virgin Mary fight
against current errors, even those diffused within the Church, especially those
regarding dogma and morals. To help them achieve this goal, they have frequent
recourse to the Blessed Virgin Mary, "who has overcome all the world's
heresies." According to the intention of their founder, the Oblates profess a
complete obedience to the authority of the Holy See and a complete acceptance
of the teachings of the Holy Father.
(Continued next issue)
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