(ANS – Vatican City) – On Tuesday 8 November 2022, during the special Congress of Theological Consultors at the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, a unanimous opinion was given regarding the heroic exercise of virtues, the reputation of holiness and signs of the Servant of God Antonio De Almeida Lustosa, Archbishop of Fortaleza. There Positio had as Relator Msgr. Maurizio Tagliaferri, Fr Pierluigi Cameroni, SDB as Postulator, and Dr. Cristiana Marinelli as Collaborator.
It is a very important step in the process of beatification and canonization, greeted with joy in the Salesian Province of Recife and in the Archdiocese of Fortaleza, where Bishop Lustosa spent 22 of the 40 of his episcopal ministry and where the diocesan Commission for the promotion of the Cause of Servant of God.
“A figure of bishop whose pastoral action in the four dioceses he leads was particularly incisive – commented Fr Pierluigi Cameroni, Postulator General for the Causes of Saints of the Salesian Family -. His apostolic zeal generated a series of works and foundations which did so much good for the people and the faithful. Appreciated his constant commitment to forming a mature and responsible Catholic laity, he is also remembered for his asceticism, for having lived poorly, for having been an authentic man of God and a wonderful man of prayer, humble, dedicated to penance and welcoming towards all, especially the most needy ”.
The Servant of God Antônio de Almeida Lustosa was born on 11 February 1886 to a family of the peasant bourgeoisie of São João del Rei, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. From his parents she learned the spirit of sacrifice and the value of work. The Salesians had recently opened the Don Bosco College in Cachoeira do Campo, and Antônio entered it at the age of sixteen. Two years later he decided to become a Salesian. He distinguished himself for his intellectual acuteness and commitment to religious life. At 26 he was ordained a priest. He was chosen as Novice Master, then Director in Lavrinhas, in charge of the formation of the Salesian aspirants and of the students of philosophy and theology. In addition to teaching, he formed numerous clerics for the Salesian apostolate, animating the nearby parishes and oratories with their help.
In 1925 he was elected Bishop of Uberaba. He found the seminary there practically empty, but after a year he had around him about thirty seminarians from the gymnasium. He took care of the marginalized, making him the urgency of social justice. Not even four years later he was transferred to Corumbá in Mato Grosso, the largest and most difficult site for evangelization. Just two years and he was appointed Archbishop of Belém do Pará, an immense diocese in the Northern Region of Brazil. He stayed there for ten years, doing his best with the usual generosity.
In 1941 it was transferred to the important headquarters of Fortaleza. Here he gave his best, in 22 years of stay, intensely living Don Bosco’s “Da mihi animas”. Convinced that the first evangelization consists in restoring dignity to the poorest people and families, he founded clinics, the “San Giuseppe” Hospital, free popular schools and workers’ clubs. He inaugurated the “Soup of the Poor” and the Archdiocese’s Social Services. Without ever forgetting the care of souls: he gave life to the Pre-Seminary, the Shrine of “Our Lady of Fatima” and the radio station “Assumption Cearense”. To assist the peasant families he founded the Congregation of the “Josephines”.
The Servant of God was a prolific writer in the most varied fields: theology, philosophy, spirituality, hagiography, literature, geology, botany. He was also highly appreciated in the artistic field: his are the stained glass windows of the Cathedral of Fortaleza.
In 1963 he retired to the Salesian house in Carpina, where he spent the last eleven years of his life and where he died on 14 August 1974. His body rests in the Cathedral of Fortaleza.
Now the Positio it will be studied by the Cardinals and Bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints: these articulated stages of study and evaluation will allow the Supreme Pontiff, in the event of a positive outcome, to declare Mons. Antonio De Almeida Lustosa “Venerable Servant of God”. A miracle attributed to his intercession will then be needed to pave the way for beatification.