Celebrated Italian Missionary dies at 91, funeral in Bandel on 27 September

Fr Louis Gobetti, SDB (90+ years)

KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – A celebrated Italian missionary who served Bengal Missions died at the historic Marian shrine of Bandel where he was prior, parish priest and administrator for about 25 years. Salesian Fr Louis Gobetti (91 years) died at Bandel some 60 km north of Kolkata on 22 September. His funeral is scheduled to be held at Bandel Basilica at 1.30 pm on Tuesday, 27 September.

Born on 8 January 1921 at Tarcento in northern Italy, Luigi arrived in India in 1936 and made his first profession on 8 December 1937.

Fr. Gobetti, SDB celebrated his 90th Birthday on 8th January, 2011. Last June while he was inItaly to meet his relatives, benefactors and friends, he fell sick. Since he returned toIndia in July he was recuperating at Bandel Church.

As a young priest Fr Gobetti assisted the Founder of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate (Krishnagar) Bishop Louis L.R. Morrow as Vicar General and Secretary from 1948 to 1969 with much “constancy and altruism”. Bishop Morrow spoke of him as “alter ego” – my other self.

Fr Gobetti as a young priest in Krishnagar

During World war II cleric Gobetti was interned in the concentration camp atDehra Dun where he pursued his theology studies and was ordained on 23 March 1945. After the war, he was assigned to Don Bosco Krishnagar as Catechist and also as the Master of Ceremonies at the Cathedral till May 1948.

From 1969 Fr Gobetti became the Vicar General of the diocese of Krishnagar and assisted in the administration of the diocese, and also in the formation of the fledgling SMI congregation.

Referring to Fr. Gobetti, Bishop Morrow wrote in his Memoirs: “Very Rev. Fr. Louis Gobetti, our Vicar General, very kindly sent his testimonial letter [for the papal right of the SMI]. Because I was in Detroit [revising Our Catholic Faith with the changes made in Vatican II], he helped you to prepare the documents required to petition for the Decretum Laudis. Always during my absence, Father took my place in providing for your needs, preaching your retreats, and assisting you in every possible way”.

In 2005, on the occasion of the diamond jubilee of his priestly ordination, Nitika Don Bosco produced a 25 minute documentary film entitled Mosaic of a Missionary. It narrates the missionary life of Fr Gobetti who came to Bengal as a minor seminarian from Italyat the age of 16. Over 70 years in Bengalsaw him work in Krishnagar and Kolkata dioceses both of which currently have Salesian Bishops.

“He gave his life for the welfare of the people of Bengal when he opted to be an Indian citizen (unlike other Italian missionaries) by choice, so that he could become all things to all people,” said the director of the film Salesian Fr Robin Gomes summing up Fr Gobetti’s chequered career.

The president of Signis India Mr Sunil Lucas shot the film at three locations. At age 86 Fr Gobetti made a 4-day trip down the memory lane with the film crew interacting with people for whom he laboured in Krishnagar, Ranaghat and Bandel in Nadia and Hooghly districts divided by the Hooghly river. The film was dubbed into Bengali and Italian languages and was nominated at the 2006 International Catholic Film Festival of Niepokalanow, Warsaw, Poland.

Besides several national and international awards, in 2008, the Catholic Association of Bengal conferred on Fr Gobetti an award for his outstanding pastoral contribution in Bengal. The event was held on Saturday, April 19, 2008 at 5.00 pm at a public function held at Don Bosco School, Kolkata.

A prolific writer and editor of the magazine “Our Lady of Bandel”, Fr Gobetti authored several books of Christian inspiration. The Indian Catholic Press Association recognized his outstanding contribution in the promotion of Christian literature during its national Convention held in Kolkata in 2004.

A prolific writer and editor of the magazine “Our Lady of Bandel”, Fr Gobetti authored several books of Christian inspiration. The Indian Catholic Press Association recognized his outstanding contribution in the promotion of Christian literature during its national Convention held in Kolkata in 2004.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Celebrated Italian Missionary dies at 91, funeral in Bandel on 27 September

  1. Fr.Tomy Kuruvilla

    Another light has faded but leaving his foot-prints all the way.

    I shed my tears at the demise of Rev.Fr.Gobetti SDB, with whom I was privileged to be with, on two occasions; at Ranaghat as a cleric and at Bandel as a new Priest.He was a human being to the core and deeply spiritual.
    A person who would anticipate the need of another and really go out of his way to make him feel that he was loved. A person who would be lavish with his words of praise, if he really felt one deserved it.Very objective,but charitable with his assesments.
    My heart-felt condolences to the Salesian province of Kolkata .

    The impact that he made on me, as a young Salesian was far beyond words could describe.He was a Heroic Son of Don Bosco, in more than one ways. The vision, of a visionary, which he imbibed made him do all what he did , in the name of the Holy founder Don Bosco, with so much of conviction, dedication and perseverance. The often repeated phrase of his “This too will Pass away” gave substance and credibility to all what he did as a Holy priest and a loyal son of Don Bosco.

    I stop to ponder; ” Is there a bankruptcy of these Convictions,Loyalty and dedication well blended with the Vision of OUR DIVINE VISIONARY , in the society today?”

  2. Jacob Islary

    I remember Fr. Gobetti visiting Kalyani as a confessor. He was a pleasant personality to be with. The Church and especially the SDB world will miss a person like him.

  3. mark rebeiro

    fr Louise gobetti is really helping me out in my trouble may our lord make him a saint

  4. Gordon Southern

    I first encountered Fr Gobetti while serving as a volunteer with MCs in Kolkata in 2002 in his sublime book of meditations “100 Meditations” which I bought at St Paul’s in Royd Street. It amplifies The Imitation in a manner I suspect no-one else could and, with The Imitation this has become my favourite spiritual reading, despite a well-stocked library with all the great spiritual classics from our Catholic heritage.
    I returned in 2006 and visited Bandel Basilica – a memorable visit – and bought another copy for a young friend of mine who served years as a volunteer in Kolkata and is now in seminary in Rome. I reminded him in a letter only last week of this precious book in the hope it will encourage him to delve into it deeply.
    Today I discovered on the internet that dear Fr Gobetti has gone home to God and so pay this poor tribute to this holy man with the hope and prayer that his example and wisdom will touch many souls even after his completion of his generous pilgrimage on earth.
    Gordon Southern – Australia

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