Saturday, October 26, 2013

Salesian Brother Stephen Sandor, Martyr, Is Beatified

Salesian Brother Stephen Sandor, Martyr, Is Beatified

In the picturesque square in front of St. Stephen’s basilica in Budapest, Hungary, Stephen Sandor, Salesian brother and martyr of the faith, was declared blessed on Saturday, October 19.
The beatification liturgy was presided over by Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest. About 40 bishops concelebrated, along with numerous Salesians.

The Salesians’ procurator general, Fr. Pierluigi Cameroni, gave a brief presentation of the life of Blessed Stephen. Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes and representative of the Pope, read the apostolic letter in which Stephen Sandor was declared Blessed.
In the letter the new Blessed is described as an exemplary educator and catechist of young people, following Don Bosco’s method of kindness. When the image of the newly beatified was uncovered, a painting and a few letters of Stephen Sandor were brought to the altar by Bro. Jean Paul Müller, treasurer general of the Salesians, and Fr. Abraham Bela, Salesian provincial in Hungary.

In his homily, Cardinal Erdo pointed out that the martyrdom of Stephen Sandor was the outcome of a political process that was designed to attack the Church, especially in its educational institutions.
Fr. Pascual Chavez then expressed his thanks on behalf of the whole Salesian Congregation.

The beatification Mass in St. Stephen's Square
Cardinal Amato also gave a talk in which he pointed out that the new Blessed has a threefold message for St. John Bosco’s sons: the faithful observance of consecrated life in joy, work, and community; the example of a committed educator, who was a highly professional typesetter and at the same time a teacher much loved by his students; martyrdom, as the supreme witness of faith, hope, and charity.
“Religious persecution creates a gulf between human beings, but the martyrs with their sacrifice build bridges of brotherhood, forgiveness, and acceptance. . . . Consecrated life is truly a white martyrdom, lived from day to day in fidelity to the Gospel and the charism of the congregation. A heroic gesture cannot be improvised,” said Cardinal Amato.

The celebration was marked by the presence of more than 8,000 people in the square, among them 3,000 young people from Salesian works and 600 from Szolnok, the birthplace of the new Blessed. Also present were Hungarian President Janos Ader, several parliamentary minister, and representatives of the city.

Stephen Sandor, upper right, with his family
Finally, about 300 Salesians were present, among them 5 bishops and 120 brothers. In addition to the Rector Major and Bro. Müller, other members of the general council included Fr. Adriano Bregolin, vicar of the Rector Major, Fr. Francesco Cereda, councilor for formation, and Fr. Marek Charzan, regional councilor for Northern Europe.

The next day, Sunday, October 20, Bishop Miklos Beer of Vac presided at a celebration of the Eucharist in Szolnok, Blessed Stephen’s birthplace. This was the final act of the official celebrations for the beatification. The parish  church was filled with worshippers. The solemnity of the celebration was highlighted by the presence of the Jubilate choir and the cameras of M1, the main Hungarian broadcaster, which transmitted the rite live.
Fr. Pascual Chavez gave the homily, which he based on the verse of St. John’s Gospel, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it produces much fruit (John 12:24).”
The Rector Major said the life of the newly beatified was one of self-giving. He delivered his reflection in three points: first, he pointed out that not only Blessed Stephen’s martyrdom, his supreme act of faith, but his whole life, as well, was marked by a deep faith in Christ. His witness, in this Year of Faith, is a model for all Salesians.

Second, Fr. Chavez said that the figure of Stephen Sandor is a significant example of how faith can mature within the family, up to the highest level. Finally, the Rector Major referred to the more specifically Salesian aspects of the holiness of Blessed Stephen: a passion for education and zeal for the young, whom he wanted to feel loved and to be happy in time and eternity.

No comments: