(from “Missionari del Pime”, February 2011)
“It is true that sometimes to reach up like in this game is not easy, but we must continue, because many are looking at us. If we want we can… We can reach the goal!”. (Ricky)
Now I recognize that it is impossible to write about a friend and not being drawn to him closely at the same time. I feel that if I do not write about Ricky and others friends of mine, I would loose something of myself. I have to recognize that Ricky, and every friend like him, is more than what I have had.
One morning on last December I have received the news that father Ricardo Lusuegro, friend and confrere, was dying in a hospital near Ibipora, Brazil. Born in the Philippines, he has become a Pime missionary in May 2004. Destined in Brazil he has worked as Parish priest in Jardim, Mato Grosso. He has suffered, for a long time, from hepatitis. Last August he had to undergone an operation because a tumor in his liver but in the last days his conditions of health have turned out to be very bad.
The sad news have halted me. I have started to listen the heart, then I have decided to leave! The day after, 3rd of December, I have arrived in the hospital of Ibipora, but “The Lord had just passed … a little while ago…” Some days after, in the middle of many emotions, I have perceived that something had runaway from me, the “essential”, like if there was something more that I had not picked up yet. I remained in Brazil, and in those weeks I have remembered him again, and I have asked to myself if in these years, indeed, I had met him.
Father Ricky was born on October 13, 1967 from a family of peasants in the periphery of the city of Sorsogon, located on the Southern limit of Luzon’s island, Philippines. Sixth of eight siblings, he lives with his parents until the last year of the Elementary School. At 14 he realizes clearly that, if he does not continue the studies, he would never come out from the poverty. Alone he decides to leave the family and to catch up with one of his sisters in the city of Paranaque, part of the greater Metro-Manila. There he enrolls in the local High-School and completes the required four years of Studies: he used to remember that period as …attending the School with the same pair of pants, punctually washing these every Sunday and Wednesday, days in which the uniform is not compulsory. After the High-School he enrolls in the Course of “Social Communications”, College of Paranaque. He gets a job as well in order to pay the studies and while taking part in the political life of his district he begins to consider to become a priest. The place in which he lives is located in a poor quarter of the Parish of “Mary Queen of Apostles”, under Pime Missionaries. In those years, Ricky meets father Gianni Sandalo and other Pime fathers who take to heart his studies and his plans. After some time, he matures the resolution to enter in Seminary.
He attends the PIME’s Seminary in Rome, and then moves in the International Community of the Theological Seminary of Tagaytay, in the Philippines. Shortly before becoming Deacon, he loses his father, and little before the priestly ordination, also his mother. In September 2005, he goes to Brazil, and at first carries out his ministry in the Parish of Assis, Parana then becomes parish priest, in Jardim, a small rural city of peasants located in the region of Mato Grosso do Sul, near Paraguay.
Listening some of those who were with him it is clear that here, in Jardim, and in these last months, father Ricky has lived some of the most happiest days of his life. Here he lived in fullness the relation with the Lord, in the commitment at the service of his people; he has felt to be …and he was indeed their Shepherd! Emerged and redeemed from the poverty of his land of origin, he has not betrayed his own roots, and has wished and received with joy the proposal to go in Mato Grosso, in order to be again with the simple and poor people. He has lived the “Obedience”, first of all towards Pime and Pime has taken care of him since the beginning, he has however freely chosen to live in the Institute with earnest and authentic thankfulness.
Rethinking at what has happened, and with the aid of some “friendly words”, now I may experience peace and gratefulness for the treasure of humanity which it has been revealed with this departure; in us, in Ricky and in the Lord!