Philippine diocese opens cause for sainthood of Italian priest

Father Joseph Aveni was known for his 'life of prayer and spiritual gifts'
Philippine diocese opens cause for sainthood of Italian priest

Father Joseph Aveni, a member of the Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus, was named a 'Servant of God' on Feb. 1 as the first step toward sainthood. (Photo supplied)

A diocese in the Philippine capital has formally opened the cause for the sainthood of an Italian priest who spent the last 30 years of his life in the country.

Paranaque Diocese in the northern part of Manila started the cause for Father Joseph Aveni, a member of the Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus, on Feb. 1.

The congregation is a religious order of priests and brothers founded by St. Hannibal Mary Di Francia on May 16, 1897. The word “rogationist” comes from the Latin “rogate," which means pray.

Father Aveni was known for a life of prayer and spiritual gifts, the congregation said in a statement.

With the opening of the cause for sainthood, the late priest can now be referred to with the title "Servant of God."

Father Aveni was born in Tripi, Messina, on Dec. 5, 1918, to a "pious family" whose home shared a wall with the altar of St. Blaise's church.

The congregation said the future priest learned catechism at an early age and grew up into a prayerful young boy.

He began religious formation at the Apostolic School of the Rogationist Congregation in the Avignone Quarter of Messina at the age of 13. He was ordained a priest on July 15, 1945.

He later became a master for novices in Trani, where he developed a reputation as a "true master of the spirit" who helped in the formation of future Rogationists.

He was appointed director of the congregation's theology students in Rome, spiritual director of a seminary in Messina, and elected vicar general of the congregation in 1974.

"Father Aveni’s staunch adherence to the will of God found concrete expression in his obedience to the wishes of his superiors," the congregation said in the statement.

In 1980, he was assigned to the mission in the Philippines, where he assumed the post of novice master at the age of 62.

While carrying out his mission, he also dedicated himself to the sacrament of reconciliation and spiritual direction of seminarians and nuns from various congregations.

Later in his life, he dedicated his time during sickness for the intentions of the Church, "for the glory of God, for the salvation of souls, for the conversion of sinners, and especially for the increase of vocations."

"In complete obedience to the will of the Almighty, he submitted himself to the care of his doctors and to the loving embrace of those around him, just as he had done all his life," said the congregation.

Father Aveni died at the Rogationist Seminary in Paranaque City in 2010 and was buried in Manila Memorial Park.

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