Fifth-grader Joseph Duarte is proud that his school has a new co-patron in Blessed Carlo Acutis.
Students encouraged to model new co-patron Blessed Carlo Acutis
“He followed God, and he can teach other young people to follow Christ,” said Duarte, of Our Lady of Sorrows School, Hamilton, one of a handful of students and staff to attend in-person Mass Nov. 6 as it was announced that Blessed Carlo was becoming a co-patron, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, after whom the school is named.
Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, spent the morning’s First Friday Mass, which was livestreamed, teaching the students about Blessed Carlo – whose life and hobbies were those in which the youngsters could relate.
“I hope that he would be a model for us on our journey to heaven,” Msgr. Gervasio said in his homily about Blessed Carlo, who was declared “blessed” by Pope Francis during an Oct. 10 beatification Mass in St. Francis of Assisi Basilica, Assisi, Italy. "Blessed" is the step before canonization.
“The beatification of Carlo Acutis is good news that a boy of our time is a beacon of light for those who want to know Christ and live their faith with courage and joy,” he said. “I hope our faculty and students will come to know him more. I hope that we will go to him with our needs, our concerns. Let him be the heavenly friend of every student of our school. Carlo can teach us how to be a good disciple of the Lord.”
Life of Faith
Before his death from acute leukemia in 2006 at age 15, Blessed Carlo was known as an average teen. He was interested in sports, music, nature and animals. However, he used his fascination with technology and above-average knack for computers to create an online database of eucharistic miracles around the world. Pope Francis calls him a role model for young people today who are often tempted by the traps of "self-absorption, isolation and empty pleasure."
“By all accounts, he was an ordinary boy, but his parents and all who met him saw something extraordinary in him,” Msgr. Gervasio said, noting that Carlo was three years old when he realized his “passion for God.”
“This was amazing since his parents did not go to Church,” Msgr. Gervasio said, explaining that as Carlo grew over the years, his love for God intensified. He wanted to attend Mass, receive the Eucharist, pray the Rosary daily, go to Confession weekly, and made “it his mission to attract as many people as possible to Jesus.”
“His faithfulness to the Mass, Confession and daily prayer were a bright light that amazed family and friends,” Msgr. Gervasio said, adding that Carlo was not interested in having the latest pair of Nike sneakers “that everyone wanted.” Instead, Carlo used his allowance to buy food, clothes and blankets, which he distributed to the poor.
Carlo’s influence also led his parents to return to Church, and he saw the internet as a great tool to meet people and spread Christian values. Msgr. Gervasio noted that at age nine, Carlo was designing websites and programs with the intent to spread the faith, especially about the Eucharist.
“In his short life, he entrusted himself to the Lord in every circumstance, especially in the most difficult moments,” Msgr. Gervasio said, explaining Carlo’s suffering with leukemia.
“He offered his suffering for the Pope and all the sick. His desire was always to go to heaven,” Msgr. Gervasio said, recounting how Carlo’s doctors were quoted as saying that the young boy wasn’t afraid of dying. When asked if he was in pain, Carlo’s reported response was, “There are many people who suffer more.”
Because of his love for St. Francis of Assisi, Carlo told his parents that he wished to be buried in Assisi.
Young Leading the Young
After the Mass, staff and students expressed awe in Blessed Carlo and said they looked forward to learning more.
Principal Maureen Tuohy indicated that the school’s religion classes will include future discussions and research on Blessed Carlo. It’s her hope that students will “see how much they have in common with him and what they can learn from his life.”
“He was a young man with such potential, and he worked every single day to improve himself and the world around him,” she said. “At a time when so many struggle with being themselves, it seems he was comfortable in who he was, and could speak about the faith and defend others without feeling self-conscious or afraid of looking foolish.”
Fifth-grader Chad Janvier was impressed at how someone so young knew he wanted to devote his life to God.
“Like Msgr. Gervasio said, ‘He was an ordinary boy who was extraordinary,’” Janvier said, adding that he feels motivated to try and follow in Carlo’s footsteps.
Added Tuohy, “We can all learn from his example, specifically to be kind, learn as much as possible about our faith and share what we know, use our God-given gifts and talents to do good in the world, follow our passions and never be afraid to be yourself.”