The Diocese of Parañaque has formally opened last week the sainthood cause for an Italian Rogationist priest known for his life of prayer and spiritual gifts.
It was a jam-packed Mass at the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians to start the cause for Fr. Joseph Aveni, who spent the last 30 years of his life in the Philippines.
The opening of the cause means Aveni can now be referred to with the title “Servant of God,” and that the diocese will open a formal inquiry into his life and works.
Aveni was born in Tripi, Messina, in Sicily, Italy, on December 5, 1918, to a “pious family” whose home shared a wall with the altar of Saint Blaise’s Church.
Learning catechism at an early age, he grew up into a prayerful young boy. After finishing elementary school, he confided that he wanted to be a priest.
At the age of 13, he began religious formation at the Apostolic School of the Rogationist Congregation in the Avignone Quarter of Messina.
On July 15, 1945, he officially became Fr. Giuseppe Aveni.
Before turning 30, he became Novice Master in Trani, in southern Italy, where he developed a reputation as a “true master of the spirit,” stewarding the formation of generations of young Rogationists.
Nine years later, he was called to Rome to be the Director of the Theology Students. In 1959, he assumed the office of Novice Master in Florence, and in Zagarolo, until 1972, he was assigned as Spiritual Father at Christ the King Seminary in Messina.
In 1974, Aveni was elected Vicar General of the Congregation.
Aveni’s staunch adherence to the will of God found concrete expression in his obedience to the wishes of his superiors.
After his term ended in 1980, he was assigned to the mission in the Philippines, where he assumed the post as 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 different congregations in the diocese.
He fell in love with the Philippines and never wanted to leave.
After stepping down as Novice Master in 1991, Aveni continued dispensing spiritual direction and leading a life of fervent prayer.
Later in the decade, after falling mortally ill, “he offered his sickness for the intentions of the Holy Church, for the glory of God, for the salvation of souls, for the conversion of sinners, and especially for the increase of vocations in the whole Church,” the congregation said.
“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,” it added.
Aveni died at the Rogationist Seminary in Parañaque City, in 2010. He was buried at the Manila Memorial Park.
Founded by Saint Hannibal Mary di Francia in 1896, the Rogationists began its mission in the Philippines in November 1976.
To date, the province has 19 communities in the Philippines, and in other parts of Asia-Oceania.