Padre Daniele Badiali

...ogni giorno partirò!

Home Parish Priest on the Andes
Parish Priest on the Andes

Parish Priest on the Andes

Father Daniele leaves for Peru in August 1991, as a “fidei donum” priest  from the Faenza-Modigliana diocese for the diodese of Huari and on 1st September he makes his entrance in the parish church of San Luis.

The parish is very big, on the Cordillera Blanca. The area includes snowfields over 6000 m and goes down to Rio Marañon, the main tributary of the Amazon. They are more than sixty scattered villages, which are parts of three big centres: San Luis, the capital of the province, Yauya and San Nicolas. In the interior there are no roads: You can only walk or ride a horse. The religious situation is a disaster: you can easily realize there is no priest. Father Daniele starts taking on the burdens of responsibility a parish priest has to bear and tries to reach all the communities, even the farthest away..

Padre Daniele distribuisce il pastoThe parish house is the reference point for the poor and for all people in need. Over the years various Italian young people stayed in the house to help him for long or short periods.

“I have ‘stolen’ this time to write from the people who continuously knock at the door to ask for foodstuff, to ask for medicines, to beg, beg, beg…… I am stunned by these continuous assaults. It’s difficult for me to leave the house: I immediately see they are running after me to look for me, to beg. I don’t know what to do…. I’d run away from all this because I can’t say yes and I know I can’t say I won’t help them... I am supposed to give everything away knowing I’ll have to start again tomorrow and give away everything once again. The poor inflict a thorn in my side and the pain is constant. I would like to relieve it but it does not depend on me. It’s midday, I’m going to have lunch with the young people in the taller. An old woman is here at the door. She weighs less than 50 kg. She does not speak. Others, instead, beg until you’re exhausted. Her silence has reached my heart. I close my eyes and go down to get a bowl of soup. The pasta comes from Italy. I give it to her, I feel ashamed: it’s she who must pray to Jesus that I’ll be saved. She thanks me with the sweetest smile. If behind this very dirty old lady there really were Jesus?” (Father Daniele)

Prepara quattrocento bambini alla prima Comunione, nel marzo del1992, può così iniziare il lavoro dell’oratorio, insegnare la devozione e la carità, essere padre per tanti ragazzi, volendo loro bene, con il desiderio intenso di condurli a Gesù. Viene ucciso da terroristi, nell’ottobre del1992, il volontario dell’OMG Giulio Rocca, a Jangas. Daniele lo conosce bene e parla così della sua morte:

“Giulio died as a martyr. He did not choose it. The situation caused him to die a violent death, similar to that of martyrs. Now the path of the MGO is clear to me too: to lose your life to the point of martyrdom. All this frightens me, but at the same time I feel quiet inside…

He comes back to Italy for a few months in May 1993. He is treated for hepatitis, resumes relations with people and works with young people in the work camps. He leaves again in December. His last years were very dense in pastoral activities: by taking to his heart the needs and sufferings of the poor, he manages to awake, into people’s souls, the thirst of God. A God that Daniele repeatedly states that he no longer finds with his head, with the reasoning, but only trying to love, lose and renounce, sacrificing himself 

He intensely experiences a filial devotion to Father Ugo, by whom he feels understood and accepted in his dramatic sense of void and absence of God. He feels he is led by the hand by a person who shows him, with his affection and with his life, a good path to defend Jesus, learn to love him and desire him as the most precious good for the salvation of his soul. This filial devotion leads him to obey him even now he is a priest and to serve him in actual fact, helping him with confessions, playing the guitar on his side, writing the songs he asks him to write, even becoming the spokesman and echo of Father Ugo’s inner life.

In May 1996 Father Daniele returns to Italy after hearing about the serious health conditions of his Bishop, Francesco Tarcisio Bertozzi. He admires him and holds him in great esteem. He does not manage to see him again before he dies and this makes him suffer a lot. He stays in Italy very few days, only the time for the funeral. 

Con il piccolo EloyBack in Peru, in November 1996 he takes into his home Eloy, a nine-year-old child with physical disabilities. This first experience opens the path to the ‘Danielitos’ home’ project, which aims at hosting disabled children and will come true after Daniele’s death.

In his last months he often repeats in his letters that he wants to stick to his duty. As a matter of fact these months are intense because he takes upon himself the work of other priests who had returned to Italy and is involved body and soul in pastoral activities. He spends eight consecutive weeks at Yanama for the ‘Luz y alegria’ feast, the preparation to Confirmation, which involves 500 to 800 children every week. Every Friday he prepares the children for confession, re-living Jesus’ Passion. It is the most important moment of the week for Daniele and he looks forward to it.

Today is the day of Passion. I have no words; I would only like to cry. I have felt cold. I longed for the children’s hands. I did not want them to come and take my place, but only to give me their hands. What is the meaning of giving a hand to one who is suffering?

I was supposed to talk about Jesus’ death. I could not tell it as a fairy tale. The children’s lack of attention struck my heart like the devil’s laughter: “Why do you bother? Why do you worry? It’s all useless…” At least they could pray or keep their hands joined. But you must never expect anything. You must only give…forgive. I felt like a condemned man; the scene of the Passion was repeating itself here. I received all the blows. I had to accept them all. It would have been a mistake to reject them. I only hope all this suffering is of use. I offer it.

My God, I wanted to tell the children only about You."