When he was a missionary friar and a mountaineer, Friar Nicola RAIMONDI once celebrated Mass “closer to heaven,” atop Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, at an altitude of 7,000 meters [22,965 feet].
On January 15, 1974, Friar Nicola celebrated Mass atop Mount Aconcagua. Located in the Andes Mountain Range in Argentina, Mount Aconcagua is the highest summit in the Americas and the Southern Hemisphere. It is one of the highest peaks in the world.
The always-cheerful Friar Nicola was a mountaineer by vocation. He climbed Aconcagua four times. Friar Nicola was a native of the Italian Province of St. Anthony of Padua (Northern Italy) and served as a missionary in the “Rioplatense” Province of St. Anthony of Padua in Argentina-Uruguay for more than sixty-five years.
Friar Nicola was born in Fiumicello di Campodarsego-Padua, Italy, on June 15, 1927, he began formation with the Friars Minor Conventual on October 7, 1938. He made his simple profession on September 12, 1944, his solemn profession on October 4, 1950 and was ordained to the priesthood on March 16, 1952.
In his Province, he served as a spiritual assistant at the San Francesco seminary in Brescia, Italy (1952); at the college of Rivoltella, in Brescia (1953) and at the Sant’Antonio orphanage in Noventa Padovana, Italy (1955).
In 1956, he came to Argentina and joined the community at the Friary of Nuestra Señora de las Gracias in Buenos Aires where he served as the parochial vicar. In 1959, he served as the Rector of the San Francisco Seminary in Moreno. In 1962, he served as parochial vicar at the Parish of Nuestra Señora de Monte Viggiano in Olavarría and also served as the rector of the San Antonio Institute. During 1974-1975 he served as parochial vicar in El Bolsón and as and the rector of the J. M. Estrada Institute. During 1975-1985 he served as parochial vicar in José León Suárez. In 1986-1989 he again served as parochial vicar in El Bolsón. During 1990-2003 he served as an itinerant missionary, again in El Bolsón; During 2004-2020) he served in the Friary of San Francisco in Olavarría. His latest assignment was at the San Francisco Friary (nursing home) in Moreno, until January 29, 2022, when he experienced his transitus to the heaven of Love, in which he believed as a disciple of Jesus and Franciscan missionary.
The Franciscan charism becomes strong when it is shared generously. The same charisma became a mission in the life of Friar Nicola. Whoever follows St. Francis must go out into the world as a brother, must not stir up controversy, but must be humble and always available, without seeking reward or becoming prideful. Truly, Friar Nicola carried out his priestly, pastoral and charismatic ministry in this humble, committed, hidden and simple style.
Friar Nicola has already made his last great ascent. As marvelous as it was for him to hike along fabulous natural paths and climb high peaks, this final ascent gives him an infinitely more stupendous view. Now he contemplates the face of Christ, the same Lord he served and to whom he gave his all as a missionary.
Friars Martín Pablo BITZER and Jorge Oscar PEIXOTO