Argentine Salesian Bishop turning 100 assures Pope is ‘a holy man’
(CNA/EWTN News) Bishop Guillermo Leaden, who resides in Buenos Aires and will turn 100 on July 20, reflected on the election of Pope Francis by saying, “Bergoglio is a holy man.”
Bishop Leaden is an auxiliary bishop emeritus of the Buenos Aires archdiocese. He is the eldest bishop in Argentina, and the fifth eldest in the world.
Upon learning that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio – the archbishop of Buenos Aires – had been elected to the papacy on March 13, Bishop Leaden offered “prayers of thanksgiving to God,” he told CNA/EWTN News July 15.
Bishop Leaden was born in Buenos Aires on July 20, 1913, the fourth of eight siblings. His parents were Irish emigrants, and he was baptized Aug. 2. He made his First Communion on Christmas Day of 1920.
Bishop Leaden went to a school run by the Salesians, an order founded by Saint Don Bosco. He said he felt a desire to be a priest when he was in the 6th grade at Pius IX School.
“When I was done I went to the seminary, and when I finished philosophy, I went to Cordoba for theology, and I was ordained a priest,” he explained.
He has been a priest for 71 years, having been ordained for the Salesians on Nov. 23, 1941. In 1975, Paul VI appointed him auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, and he was consecrated a bishop on Aug. 8.
He served as auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires until 1992, retiring when he was 78. He remains in residence in his archdiocese.
The Blessed Mother has helped him “in many small things,” Bishop Leaden said, and was with him at every moment in his pastoral ministry. He has also been accompanied by St. Don Bosco, his patron.
“I try to imitate him as much as possible,” Bishop Leaden reflected.
The retired bishop has served as a professor, catechist and principal at several Salesian schools.
“I was very happy in my priestly life and I continue to be happy in my priestly life,” he said.
“There is nothing special about my life except my work in the Church itself, in the vicariate and when I was assigned by the bishop and where obedience sent me.”
Bishop Leaden encouraged seminarians to “keep their lives on the path of fidelity to the Church. In my view that is the most important thing.”
Priests should live a private life that is appropriate to their calling, he noted, adding that “the Eucharist is a very important activity” in the life every priest.
On July 19, Bishop Leaden will say a special Mass to mark his 100th birthday, at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, where he was pastor for seven years in the 1960s.
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