MILAN – AsiaNews founder, Father Piero Gheddo, 89, died on 20 Dec 2017 at the Ambrosiana Nursing Home, Cesano Boscone, near here.
Born in 1929 in Tronzano Vercellese Italy, he entered the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in 1945 and was ordained priest in 1953.
Internationally recognised as ‘the missionary of print media,’ Fr Gheddo worked all his life in the world of communications to spread the Gospel. In 1986 he founded AsiaNews, and continued to contribute to it when it went online.
His achievements include the founding of the Italian Missionary Publishing (Editrice Missionaria Italiana or EMI) in 1955, the co-founding of the Milan PIME Missionary Centre with Father Amelio Crotti and Father Giacomo Girardi in 1961; and the Mani tese (Extended Hands) in 1964.
He was editor of “World and Mission” (Mondo e Missione) 1959-1994 as well as of “Missionary Italy” (Italia Missionaria), and of “PIME Missionaries” (Missionari del Pime).
In 1962, as a journalist of the Osservatore Romano, he was chosen by Giovanni XXIII as an expert to draft the conciliar decree Ad Gentes. In the 1990s, John Paul II chose him to author the encyclical Redemptoris Missio.
Fr Gheddo wrote over 90 books, 30 of which were translated, and received several journalistic awards.
His books on his parents, Il testament del capitano (The Captain’s Testament) with the letters of Pope John from the war in Russia (San Paolo, 2002) and Questi santi genitori (These Holy Parents) (San Paolo, 2005) have become best sellers.
From 1994 to 2010 he was director of the PIME Historical Archives in Rome, publishing several histories of PIME missions in the world, as well as biographies of some members of the institute.
For years, he contributed to Italian state television (RAI) explaining the Sunday gospel. On Rai radio, he contributed a brief morning message (Il Vangelo delle 7.18, The Gospel at 7.18 am). He also collaborated with Radio Maria and various lay publications like the magazine Gente and the newspaper Il Giornale when Indro Montanelli, whom he befriended, was the paper’s editor.
Deeply convinced that the world needs models and experiences, Fr Gheddo was a driving force behind the cause of beatification of a number PIME missionaries: Giovanni Mazzucconi, Paolo Manna, Clemente Vismara, Mario Vergara, and more recently, Alfredo Cremonesi.
He worked on documenting the actions of the servants of God Marcello Candia, Angelo Ramazzotti, Felice Tantardini, Carlo Salerio, Egidio Biffi as well as Leopoldo Pastori and Msgr Aristide Pirovano.
Starting in 2014, the ailing Fr Gheddo needed constant medical care. For this reason, he moved to the Ambrosiana nursing home in Cesano Boscone, in the diocese of Milan. Here he worked almost until the end, managing his blog and sending thoughts and reflections about the mission. – Bernardo Cervellera, AsiaNews.it