Funeral: Cerro, 6th February 2014
Presided by Fr. Franco Dal Dosso
Eulogy by Fr Giuliano Melotto
A contemporary writer from Verona, born like Gabriella in 1940, Vittorino Andreoli, author of interesting books, including "Preti: viaggio tra gli uomini del sacro” (Priests: journey among the man of holiness), at the end of the book writes: "I remember that in the past a tram, once reaching its terminus, had often a traveler who remained seated at his place. Then he was asked to step off by the driver who told him that the journey was over. Thus, Andreoli writes, I confess that as that absentminded passenger, I too would like to continue to speak of the priests...".
The same is for Gabriella Erculiani, sister of Andreina and Mario, the mother of Sara, grandmother of Paola and Elena, great-grandmother of Francesco and Luca... and, in a special way, wife of Alfredo Carcereri... to whom she was reunited in heaven on Monday evening the 3rd February 2014, after for many years they did not see each other. I say this from the start: I never get tired of talking about Gabriella, because she was, and still is, a special person: an ordinary woman, without graduations, unpretentious, but special. She had a more important degree: the degree in altruism, in solidarity, in voluntary work and in goodness! Gabriella was a special woman!
She was special to God who created her, who gave her to us; she was special to Alfredo who married her; she was special for her family, for Fr. Tullio and for the following parish priests of Cerro Veronese; she was special for the people of Cerro, especially for the many women who cooperated with her in the parish and outside the parish, in Italy and in Africa. She was a special woman for so many nuns here in Italy, in Africa and in Brazil; she was special for the poor who knocked at the door of her house, all these years... and were never turned away empty-handed. She was special for the children of Chernobyl, of whom she spoke with great affection; she was special for us Stigmatines, both Italian and African.
She became special to us since 1976, when Gabriella arrived at Brits (South Africa) with her husband Alfredo and a group of volunteers from Cerro, some of whom are here today and others are in heaven. They had come to help the people of Maboloka to build their church and crèche.
The ‘Africa’s sickness’ struck her deeply in the heart and for Gabriella that was an incurable disease, stronger than the one that brought her to the end of her life. Gabriella was a special woman, a Christian woman, a woman of faith, a practical woman, a ‘ready-for-everything’ woman, capable of communion and cooperation. All these good qualities made her bring forth fruits for the good of her family in so many works of charity. Since her commitment in the parish and at Cerro became or seemed her too little, Gabriella became bit by bit a ‘universal’ woman, open to the needs of the whole world.
It was for Gabriella and her friends of Cerro a long pilgrimage in the world of the Missions in Africa, close to the missionaries and especially to the people: I call it a pilgrimage because the world she was moving in is sacred, every person is sacred, Africa is sacred. It is not a place for tourism, but for encounters. "Moses, Moses, take off your sandals, for the place where you stand is holy!” And there, in that place, Moses met and talked face to face to God and discovered his mission. And Gabriella, with great respect, in setting foot on African soil, took off her shoes. And it was there that she met Jesus in the poor, in their everyday life, working alongside with the missionaries, close to the nuns, the seminarians, for whom she was proud in making albs, sacred vestments, stoles, especially for the profession of their religious vows or for their ordinations.
Gabriella met God even in the African liturgy, full of dance, joy and life. There Gabriella discovered her vocation and mission – without forgetting her family and her parish - and performed it with enthusiasm and loyalty to the last breath. And now, on the 3rd February, came the end: she stepped off from the tram, to get on another, a bigger one, more modern, faster, a tram driven by the Angels, who took her to heaven, from where she carries on her vocation and mission of prayer and intercession for the family, for the parish, for the poor and for the many children, boys and girls, seminarians and for Africa’s people, who are still knocking at her door.
Thank you, Lord, for letting us know Gabriella. She is in your hands. She is in the joy of your Kingdom.