January 7-9, 2000
volume 11, no. 5

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    Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we spotlight each member of the Conclave in alphabetical order. We find this necessary as our dear Sovereign Pontiff Pope John Paul II grows older, clinging to hope, as we join him, of seeing the light of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart with the dawn of the new millennium - the Jubilee Year 2000. How much longer this 264th successor of Peter has left on this earth only God knows for sure, but His Divine Mercy is evident in allowing him to be with us this long for he truly is a saint for our times, truly Christ's Vicar on earth in these waning days before the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Time of Peace, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the New Pentecost, the Second Advent, the Age of the Holy Spirit. What 1999 will bring we have no idea, nor does anyone else, but with John Paul II at the helm, we feel much more secure in knowing God's Will will be done. Nevertheless, we want to preview the future Pope whether that be soon or much, much later, for no one lives forever and eventually one of those prelates will be selected as the 265th successor of Peter. This will give the reader a better insight into the man whom the Holy Spirit will move the conclave to choose. Thus we bring the reader vignettes on each cardinal in alphabetical order gleaned from the Catholic Almanac, The Official Catholic Directory, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

142.   Cardinal Ersilio Tonini
    Cardinal Ersilio Tonini was born during the last days of Pope Saint Pius X's pontificate on July 20, 1914 in the village of Cenovera di San Giorgio Piacentino, Italy. He has lived during the reigns of nine Sovereign Pontiffs. So embued with a vocation was young Ersilio that he entered the seminary at the unusual age of eleven in Piacenza. and became a priest on April 18, 1937 at only 23. He was immediately appointed Vice-Rector of the Piacenza Seminary where he also taught Latin, Italian and Greek until 1939 when he was called to Rome during the war. In 1943 he returned to Piacenza and became editor of the Diocese's weekly newspaper. On October 14, 1953 his bishop assigned him to a parish in Salsomaggiore where he was introduced first hand to the poverty and the problems of the downtrodden. After fifteen years the parishioners were heartbroken to see him leave when he was appointed Rector of the Piacenza Seminary in September 1968. A year later Pope Paul VI named him Bishop of Macerata-Tolentino on April 28, 1969 and he was ordained and installed on June 2 of the same year.

    On November 22, 1975 the Holy Father transferred him to the Archdiocese of Ravenna-Cervia where he remained until his resignation on October 27, 1990 when he retired at the age of 76. But his greatest honor was yet to come for His Holiness Pope John Paul II named him in his Consistory of November 26, 1994 and at the ripe old age of 80 he received his red-hat and the titular church of the Most Holy Redeemer in Val Melaina. It was more as an honor to this dedicated man than for his service to the cardinalate for he was no longer eligible for the Sacred Conclave and remains today in retirement at Via Santa Teresa 8, 48100 in Ravenna, Italy.

    Cardinal Tonini gained fame while Archbishop of Ravenna when he left his comfortable quarters in the Bishop's palace to minister to the poor derelicts and addicts in the streets and help out at the St. Teresa Institute in Ravenna caring for the sick. Thus, he became known around Ravenna as the "Mother Teresa of Ravenna."


January 7-9, 2000
volume 11, no. 5

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