(ANS – Catania) – Yesterday, May 16, 2023, the 105th birthday of Fr. Rodolfo di Mauro, a Salesian of the Sicilian Province, born in 1918, currently the oldest Son of Don Bosco in the world, was celebrated in Catania. While his age certainly represents a remarkable achievement, the real record for Fr. di Mauro is his countless extraordinary actions for his “boys,” who were there yesterday, at the oratory, to blow out the candles on the big cake with him.
Hugging him, among his people, were many children, many young and old whom the Salesian raised, helped, and mentored, and then a group of ladies who, emotionally moved, recalled how in past years Fr. di Mauro involved them in numerous activities and fun trips to the mountains. “He taught the boys a trade,” Rosaria, Giovanna, and Pina said, “he would take the tools and show them how to do it; many others would have ended up on the street. Instead, thanks to him, they graduated and today they are doctors, lawyers, decent people with families.”
An entire day of celebrations was dedicated to Father di Mauro. In the morning, there was lunch with Archbishop Luigi Renna of Catania and the superiors of the Salesians of Sicily, in the afternoon, a moment of prayer, with Mass presided over by Archbishop Salvatore Gristina, Archbishop Emeritus of Catania, who on the occasion of this extraordinary milestone said, “A long and hard-working life, that of Father Rodolfo. I remember his 100th birthday when we wished him a long-lived journey. Today we want to wish him again to continue on the path of life because it is important,” he added, addressing the children, all seated in the front row, “to understand that life is a gift from the Lord. It is the first gift to which every day the Lord adds others, to no end. And that is why we must guard it, defend it, and never scorn it or, even worse, take it away.”
Under the sign of Don Bosco, the 105-year-old Salesian always worked with love for others and with passion, wisdom, and vivacity. A truly “enlightened” man, who recounts with a smile and humility many adventures and episodes of his life. No secret of longevity, first of all: “A life without excess; I have always acted soberly. I have never exaggerated in eating and living,” he affirmed.
And although he is a big fan of technology, so much so that he follows Sunday Mass on a tablet, last year’s gift from the children, he says, “I find it hard to adapt to the mentality of young people today, different from those of 100 years ago. Just think that when I was born, there was not even electric light.”
Born in Militello, Province of Catania, in 1918, when asked if he knows his most famous fellow citizen, he says, “Do I know Pippo Baudo? If anything, he knows me! As a child, I grew up with his father, the lawyer Baudo. I was an altar boy in the church of Santa Maria, and he was a Christian who set an example for everyone, he came to church every day, and prayed. I have a beautiful memory. When Pippo was born, I was already grown up and away from home.”
Among the many who flocked to celebrate, along with the institute’s director, Fr. Giuseppe Cutrupi, and the parish priest, Fr. Benedetto Sapienza, were also some figures symbolic of Salesianism, such as Alfredo Petralia, president of the Union of Past Pupils of the “Don Bosco – Salette” center; the former parish priest, Fr. Enzo Biuso; the mayor of San Gregorio, Carmelo Corsaro; and the poet Nunzio Rapisarda.