Belonging. The search for it can haunt us. Br. Andrew Borello was someone who faced this question many times in his life, and each time, found that Home in Christ.
He was born Ricardo Borello, on March 8, 1916 in Mango, Italy. When he was still a baby, his father died in WWI, leaving a wife and two children behind. His mother remarried, and so little Ricardo and his older sister Maria moved to a new home, adjusting to a new father. When Ricardo was in his teens, both his mother and stepfather died. With his only sister already living and working in another city, the adolescent was left quite alone. He was taken in by the Peronne family, who had a farm nearby. The only thing that he requested from the death of his mother was her old missal.
Ricardo was a very prayerful child. As he was constantly faced with loss, resettlement, and a lack of a secure home, he found a deep sense of security in his faith – in the Fatherhood of a God who loved him, and in the Motherhood of Mary who never left his side.
Ricardo was already a young man when he came across a biography of young boy who had died at the age of 14, having lived his life passionately for Jesus. That young boy was Maggiorino Vigulungo, of the Society of St. Paul. Ricardo was so inspired by Maggiorino’s fervor for Christ, and so attracted to the charism of the Society, that he too found himself being called there. Ricardo applied to be formed as a religious brother. In joining the Society, he once again had to leave a home and a family, and was faced with the prospect of joining a group of co-novices far younger than himself… at a time when boys as young as 12 could enter a seminary or begin formation for religious life, Ricardo was entering as a young man of 20! Still, even knowing himself to be the oldest of his group, he was not deterred from the vocation that God was inviting him to. He wanted to spread the love of Christ to others, a love that had been a constant for him in his own difficult life. And he was willing to face another upheaval and transition in order to give his “yes” to God’s invitation.
Br. Andrew, as he was then called in the Society of St. Paul, was a beautiful example of loving faith to his co-novices. At first he was assigned to the garden because they needed his knowledge of growing crops on a farm to help nourish the many boys at the Typographical School. Then during the war, when paper became scarce, Br. Andrew was assigned to the night shift at the paper mill. He would shovel pulp into big mixing pots all night, then go straight to the church to pray in reparation for all sins committed throughout the night. Later, he would be assigned to be the community cobbler, repairing the shoes of all his brothers. Br. Andrew saw this work as absolutely integral to the mission of spreading the Gospel, for if the priests and brothers didn’t have shoes, then they couldn’t go out and give people the Word of God!
The day of Vestition (when the brothers received their habits for the first time) was an incredible moment for Br. Andrew and his co-novices. After officially receiving their habits, the novices began to celebrate, when they noticed that Br. Andrew was missing. They went looking for him, and found him in chapel in front of a statue of the Blessed Mother. He was coming, he said, but just wanted to come and thank his Mother first.
Br. Andrew was still a strong young man when he was hit with Tuberculosis. In March 1948, he offered his life to the Lord for the faithful perseverance of all consecrated religious in their vocations. Months later, on September 4, 1948, he died at the age of 32. He astonished the attending doctor by passing with a smile on his face.
He was proclaimed Venerable on March 3, 1990.