Fr. Felipe has left us. It was not expected, because – despite his age and a few health issues, which he had – he was in good health and above all, because we never expect that someone like him could leave us.
I cannot forget the first time I met him. I had just entered Carmel. I was a postulant in Florence and Fr. Felipe came to preside a profession in the convent of our nuns. His powerful voice, his imposing figure: everything spoke of a true General. But at the same time, one could see his simplicity and fraternal dealings with us and with the nuns. As we were ccompanying Fr. General, we were able to enter the nun’s cloisters and his manner of joking with them about small pots and pans was a delight. I could see that he knew how to create a fraternal and family atmosphere, midst an atmosphere of mystery sacred and inviolable present in the rooms of the house.
This first impression as father of the family has been confirmed by everything I have come to know about him since, beginning with his tireless work during the eighteen years when he was in the General House, first as Vicar General and later as General. I can say that his presence, right up to the present day, has left an indelible imprint on the governement and life of the Order. For the last few years, we have been reading and re-reading the Constitutions, which were approved and revised at the time that he served as Superior General., We also owe the first missionary initiatives of the Order to his period of government, above all in Africa. Houses of formation for our young people was a constant concern for Fr. Felipe, who worked hard to make them a reality in several countries. It is not by chance that Fr. Felipe, when his second term as General, came to an end that he should have asked to be moved to Uraguay, where he was master of novices for many years, makng use of all his experience and wisdom.
We all know that the nuns’ Constitutions was one of the heaviest crosses that Fr. Felipe had to bear and that the text which was approved in 1991was the fruit of his own suffering, battles and tears. His affection and his generous surrender to the Discalced Carmelite nuns continued to the last stage of his life, as confessor and assessor in many Latin American countries.
Fr. Felipe, your departure makes us feel more alone and abandoned. Nonetheless, we know that we can rely even more on your friendship and strength now, which we so greatly need. You have left us an enormous legacy: you have given us a true love of our family and of the whole Church. Thank you, Felipe! We will never forget you!