Fr Gonzalo. A man of gentle manner.

A youthful and happy man, he spent 17 years of his 58-year lifespan in Africa. He died of the Coronavirus.   

Fr. Antonio Gonzalo was born in Vigo (Spain), in the diocese of Tui-Vigo, on 25 July 1962. He entered the Moncada novitiate where he took temporary vows on 25 May 1985. He did the scholasticate in Elstree where he made his final profession on 2 June 1989, and in Rome where he was ordained a priest on 7 July 1990 and remained until mid-1993 for further studies.  

In July of the same year, he was assigned to the province of Togo- Ghana-Benin, where he worked from 1993 to 2010: 17 years of self-giving and commitment. He was affectionately called “Fada Koku” because he was born on a Wednesday, a fact that shows how well he had become part of the life of the people, their language and culture.  

We may see three phases in those seventeen years: the first period (1993-2001) mostly pastoral, he spent in Ghana (Sogakope, Abor and Accra) and Togo (Kouve); the second in vocations and mission promotion and the third in finance.  

Regarding his pastoral work, Fr. Antonio served at Sogakope and at Kouve (1993-1996) where the traditional voodoo religion was still very strong, and the proclamation of the Good News required that the missionary lived among the people as a humble servant of the Gospel, visiting the small Christian communities scattered among the villages.  

A young and happy sort of person, Fr. Gonzalo threw himself into the ministry with enthusiasm.  His ability to relate easily and in a friendly way to the youth gave his superiors the idea of entrusting him with a different sort of service: vocations and mission promotion in Ghana.  

His second period of service began in Abor (1996) where he started his activities as vocations promoter. However, since there were more young people in the big cities, it was decided to move towards the capital. In Accra, he founded the Centre for Mission Promotion (CMA).  The Plan was, with the help of other Combonis, to make the Comboni Missionaries known in the archdiocese of Accra and to create a network of contacts both with the clergy and the Youth. 

Fr. Gonzalo gave the very best of himself in this new initiative and also helped to create the new Comboni parish of “Our Lady of the Assumption” in the New Achimota quarter of Accra.  

During that time, 2001-2002, Fr. Gonzalo took part in the ongoing formation Comboni Year in South Africa and, after his return, started the third phase of his service as provincial bursar, serving in that post for eight years. All that time, he worked not only as an administrator but also as an animator of the Comboni communities. He was appreciated by them for his professionalism and competence. Another characteristic of Fr. Antonio was his life of prayer. Despite his many commitments, he always found time for personal and community prayer.

 In March 2011, he returned to his original province of Spain where he was assigned to the community of Madrid and appointed provincial bursar. As bursar, he never failed to visit the communities, patiently and gently helping them in their financial matters. 

His end came suddenly. One evening he said he was not feeling well and retired to bed. Unexpectedly, he died during the night.