July 15 – BROTHER NATALE
When Br. Natale was affected by cancer of the face and died at the infirmary of La Hilliere on 15 July 1981, there was only one word on all lips: “We have lost a saint”. Soon, the people of Passos, where he had spent more than twenty years, were informed and the municipality ordered three days of mourning to render homage to the “Doctor Schweitzer of Brazil”. A year later, the Osservatore Romano dedicated a long article to him under the title: “Frate!Natale, apostolo dei poveri”.
Cesaro Lisi was born in 1912 at Strangolagalli south of Rome, like four other Brothers of St Gabriel. At age 12 he was directed by the village parish priest to the juniorate of Saluzzo in the north of Italy. He made his novitiate at Peruwelz (Belgium) and his very brief scholasticate at Saluzzo. After seven months of teaching the little deaf-blind in Marseilles he was sent in April 1931 to Harrar (Abyssinia), from where the Italo-Ethiopian war drove him out in 1935. Return to Italy: juniorate of Zagorolo, then the Parioli school, Rome. To cater to the needs of the school and of the number of orphans in the city, he made many risky trips during the Second World War during which he contracted an infection of the jaw which became so serious that he had to be given the extreme unction. Recovering, he became Provincial Bursar until his departure for his new and last field of apostolate.
Arriving in Brazil in March 1954, he found at Carmo do Rio Claro an uncompleted school. Trusting in God, Mary and Joseph he took charge of its works courageously and succeeded in finding the necessary finances. All the while teaching in the school, he prepared the juniorate which could open in 1958 but which unfortunately did not yield much fruit.
In 1969, the nationalisation of private schools oriented the Brothers to another mission. It was then that Br. Natale realised the work of his life at Passos. At Carmo he had already started an education centre for the most deprived people. He did the same here on a very big scale. The day after his death a news paper in Passos wrote: “One day this simple man was seated on a bench in the church and, with an unshakeable faith in God, he asked Divine Providence the means to construct a home for the hundreds of children”. When Br. Natale returned from Mass in the morning, these children followed him, with empty stomachs, and he had to find them shelter, food and work. Thus was born the CAPP: Centro de Aprentizagem pro menor de Passos. “Br. Natale has written a big page of our history” concluded the newspaper of Passos.
A page that still continues. At the end of the 20th century, the CAPP which is the masterpiece of Br. Natale receives 400 youths of 7 to 17 years, half of them boys and half girls, coming from poor and often broken families. They attend classes outside the school. They come to the centre for noon meal and for four hours of activity divided into three periods of unequal duration: school help, sports and practical training (garden, ironwork, carpentry, sewing, grill and parpen making). Without any government aid, with donations and free work done in its production section, the CAPP lives on Providence- as in the time of Br. Natale, a true disciple of Montfort.