Heroic virtue amid simplicity

83 years ago today, a Colombian priest went home to be with the Lord.  He was not martyred.  His simple ministry as a parish priest did not gain great international recognition.  But he was holy enough to be beatified by Pope John Paul II during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.  His life can be a reminder to us to pray for our priests in this Year for Priests, and to pray that the Lord would inspire young men to follow his example.

Bd Mariano de Jesús Euse Hoyos

Bd Mariano de Jesús Euse Hoyos

Bl. Mariano de Jesús Euse Hoyos was born to Pedro Euse and Rosalía de Hoyos in Yarumal, Colombia, on 14 October 1845, the eldest of seven children. His deeply religious parents were personally responsible for their children’s primary education, teaching them good morals, reading, writing and the rudiments of science.

He lived as a farmer until he was 16, when he made known his desire to become a priest. He was entrusted to the care of his uncle Firmino Hoyos, parish priest of Girardota and widely known for his virtue and knowledge. With him Mariano began his cultural and spiritual formation and proved enthusiastic and hard-working. In 1869 he entered the newly opened seminary in Medellin and was ordained a priest on 14 July 1872.

Fr Mariano began his ministry in San Pedro as curate to his uncle Firmino. When Fr Firmino died in 1875, Fr Mariano was transferred to Yarumal (1876), and then to Angostura (1878). The parish priest of Angostura, Fr Rudesindo Correa, was elderly and frail. Fr Marianito, as he was affectionately known, soon became aware of the many problems lying before him: the construction of the parish church, technical problems and the threat of civil war. He patiently surmounted all difficulties and completed the church. He was named parish priest of Angostura, where for the rest of his life he continued to serve the Gospel and to be deeply concerned for the good of his parishioners’ souls.

Nothing could stop Fr Mariano’s zeal. His apostolic efforts bore abundant fruit, making a deep impression on the people and leaving a vivid memory. To everyone he was a diligent father, teacher and trusted adviser, a faithful witness to the love of Christ. He preferred the poor, whom he called “Christ’s nobles”, and gladly spent all he had to help them. He often visited the sick, and was available to them day or night. He gently led children and young people on the ways of good morals and wisdom.

He had great affection for farmworkers, recalling that he had once been one himself, and was attentive to their needs. He knew his people well and could speak to their hearts to encourage religious practice: attendance at Mass on feast days, recitation of the family Rosary, devotion to the Sacred Heart, Catholic associations and prayer for vocations.

Besides the parish church, he also built the rectory, the bell tower and the chapels of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and of St Francis, as well as the cemetery.

His ministry was based on continuous prayer and asceticism. He had a special devotion to the Eucharist, Our Lady, the angels and the saints. During the long years of his apostolate he enjoyed good health, but he became bedridden in June 1926 with a serious infection, and on 12 July was stricken with enteritis. His poverty was such that an appeal had to be made to his people to care for him in his illness. Then he said to them: “I have lived long enough, and my greatest desire is to be united with my Jesus”.

He died on 13 July 1926 and was buried in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Chapel, which he had built. The whole population attended his funeral with the authorities and many priests.

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