FRANCO CHIERICO (priest)
Born: Milan 2.12.1939
Temporary Profession: 25.9.1957
Final Profession: 13.12.1960
Priesthood: Cathedral of Milan 26.6.1965
Death: Milan 6.11.2017
Age: 77 years
On Thursday 9th November 2017 we celebrated the funeral of Father Franco Chierico. Here are the words of the parish priest, Fr. Lidio Zaupa during the homily.
On Tuesday 7th November, in the afternoon I went to see Fr. Franco in the burial chamber of the Policlinic Hospital. He had departed on the previous night. I was alone. And as it may happen in these moments, I started talking. He did not hear me physically but I needed to tell him something. «But why - I told him - did you go so fast? Without almost saying goodbye. We could only accompany you for few days from when we brought you to the hospital. Could you not stay a bit longer with us? Especially now that you were so serene and at peace, ready for all emergencies, positioned in your office where you knew how to record everything in a timely manner. And then you would go out to meet people. How many people have you approached in your life! How many blessings to the families during advent time! How much solidarity you showed to those who asked for help!»
Then I turned to the Lord and said: «Lord, why did
you take away such a good brother at this time when he was necessary to our
Only the day before from Ivory Coast had arrived Fr. Marius, and, with Fr. Matthieu, he accompanied you to the hospital in the night. You were so serene that evening. We were discussing with you quietly, because it did not seem anything serious. And you answered with your usual smile, you did not want to worry us, you did not feel pain ... and we let you go.
Here at Holy Cross you were born, here you grew up as a boy. Sister Teresa, few years younger, remembers when you, as a little boy, gave the first kicks to the ball, in Via Giustiniano. Then in Verona you were trained at the Apostolic School of the Stigmatines. The parish of Holy Cross had already given some Religious to the institute of St. Gaspar. You then handed the relay baton to Fr. Stefano Senaldi, again from Holy Cross, for the round to continue. As a priest you have spent the first two years in the community of Trento; then in 1967 you have come to Holy Cross. Fifty years ago! You were our historical memory, you knew everything and everyone, going around in the neighbourhood and knowing each detail; in summer you would stop for an ice cream at ‘Grandpa Peppe’, going in and out of the oratory, of which you witnessed a transformation in these 50 years. You were in church at the right time; your penitents asked: is Don Franco here? And you were their point of reference. Then in the parochial office you kept everything in order, each paper would find its place.
You have been for five years at Saint Leo the Great, the other parish we had as Stigmatines, here in Milan. Your remembrance is still strong there and even here today there are friends of that parish to pray with us. And how hard it was also for you when that parish in 1985 was left by our institute because the forces were scarce, and you returned to Holy Cross
You were always accurate in any matter. How many
times have you called me saying, «Fr. Lidio, look here, something is missing in
this marital position you have started.» - Fortunately you were there. In ten
years I did not learn everything, because I knew there was always someone behind
me who was controlling me and was not afraid to tell me when I was wrong.
Thank you Franco, for what you have been and what you have done for this community of Holy Cross. Which until the end you wanted to serve in the best way, as it happened on the past 18th October (2017), when our Archbishop mons. Mario Delpini came in the evening to visit us and pray with us and to encourage us with his word. As if a good altar server, that evening you wanted to stay close to the bishop, your heart was a truly Ambrosian heart.
This community really loved you, it was close to you. In these days it was mobilized to get the news, to be close to you. I held your hand several times when you were in hospital. At first, you respond with handshakes, which gave us the illusion that you would continue to stay with us. Then everything stopped. When I held your hand on Sunday afternoon, and I tried to talk in your ear, I did not get any answer. I realized that we had arrived to the door of Paradise. I greeted your brother Giancarlo, your nieces Cristina and Alessandra, Valentina and Emanuela who were close to you every day. And I said to the Lord, «Thank you for giving us a brother so good and faithful. You know everything, you know why you called him at this time.»
I conclude with a brief testimony taken from the many messages that have come to us: Don Franco, a constant presence since I entered, about 21 years ago, in this Stigmatine world. Don Franco, sometimes severe, but much more often smiling and ready for a joke, the singing Don Franco, Don Franco very good confessor. But what came to my mind tonight, while we prayed for him, was the image of him and Brother Ferdinando, pilgrims in Heaven, the one busy organizing the stages and the other ready to follow him and to wear the vestments for the Mass in each church along the way. I'm not sad, because in the last period I saw him in perfect shape and serene and because he did not have to suffer too long before being received in the arms of the Father. I hope that from there, he and Brother Ferdinando will continue to watch over all of you Confreres, and all of us members of a parish to whom they were so attached. A hug and a prayer. May he rest in peace.
Fr. Lidio Zaupa