Fr. Everaldo dos Santos, sx
– Quezon City, November 14, 2014 –
Fr. Peter Venturini was the confrere who welcomed me at the airport when I arrived in the Philippines in July, 1997. It was a hot and humid afternoon and there he was in the crowd with a face towel on his shoulders, which he used to wipe the sweat from his face. He had a wide open smile, soft voice and looked much alike the late American actor Robin William. When I met him at the airport all my fear of stepping on a new land and of getting lost ended there. His calmness passed on to me courage and confidence. Few days later we would be running up and down ridding a tricycle as he was trying to get enrolled in an English language school within the Ateneo de Manila University campus.
He was an Italian and also an English gentleman. I was always impressed by his excellent command of English, his unmistakable British accent and extensive knowledge of English literature and music. As I was learning the language, he never hesitated to confidently correct my pronunciation and grammar errors. As a formator he would really journey with the students, encourage them and support their own initiatives.
He himself was a man of initiatives. He initiated our Philippine Delegation with the amazing capacity of discerning what the Spirit was leading the Xaverians to do. Our circumscription owes so much to him for being so instrumental in the fundamental choices of places where to start, setting the basic structures for the Xaverian community and Saint Francis Xavier Parish, introducing a style to the International Theologate of the Philippines and establishing a basic net of important connections for those who would succeed him.
I spent only two years with him until when he was assigned to the Theology Community of Parma. The image that remained with me is that of a confrere totally in love with God, with our Xaverian family and with the Filipino people, especially the poor. He was multitasked most of the time handling several big responsibilities and I am convinced that only someone who is in love can make sacrifices to accomplish all that is needed without holding grudges, without bitterness, being great and remaining simple.
The austerity by which he lived and set as a standard here in the Philippines was very high; in fact too much for us. We who came after him felt the need of a lot of things which he seemed to do quite well without. Our community became larger perhaps than what he expected and had to undergo several modifications, but all is taking place upon the strong foundations that he helped to build, the land that he chose and purchased, surrounded by people who are dear to him.
His passage into the eternal home has not been without a long via cruces – his ailment. May he rest in peace now in the comfort and company of the saints. I wish that in the same way he welcomed me at the Manila airport and also in Rome 3 years later when we met and he led me through the Holy Door during the Jubilee year, so he may be the one to welcome me and many more at the gates of our eternal home.