This book presents the life and writings of Tina GARAU. She was born in 1921 in Gonnosfanàdiga (Oristano Province), a charming town in southwestern Sardinia, Italy.
Tina was the youngest of eight children; six boys and two girls. At twenty-one she meritoriously earned a diploma to teach elementary school. The same year, she was vested in the habit of the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS). The following year, she professed her vows with the fraternity in Oristano, far from her home town. She kept her membership in the OFS hidden at first, probably because as a young girl she had been engaged in Catholic Action in the Diocese of Ales.
In 1955, she moved with her family to Cagliari [Sardinia], where she attended the OFS fraternity of the Annunciation parish. Two years later, she was made a teacher of formation and in 1958, was elected the Regional Delegate of the Franciscan Youth for Women. From then on, a relationship of love and service was established between Tina and the OFS. She served in various roles, including the Regional Minister of Sardinia, first from 1966 to 1988 and then from 1994 to 2001; the National Councilor from 1966 until her death; the Deputy Minister of State for a three-year term covering 1983 to 1986; and she served as the International Vice President from 1978 to 1990. Her work in formation led her to travel to conferences and conventions throughout the peninsula and abroad. This explains the richness of her writings, which deal principally with St. Francis and various aspects of the Secular Franciscan Order. However, she covers many other topics dealing with social and ecclesial life and Christian spirituality.
In his introduction to this book, the Most Reverend Roberto CARBONI, Bishop of Ales-Terralba, writes: “The research and in-depth examination that Friar Giuseppe SIMBULA, OFM Conv., has conducted on the life and testimony of Tina, shows us a journey of faith, which starts from a distance and gradually intensifies and, as it were, solidifies around the figure of St. Francis of Assisi. It is a happy choice, letting Tina speak, presenting her writings and notes, which once again show us the freshness of her thought and her Christian and Franciscan spiritual journey. It was a journey not without difficult moments, both humanly, when her health deteriorated, and spiritually, when she experienced those “dark nights” so familiar in mysticism and spirituality; those intense, questioning moments. We give Friar Giuseppe SIMBULA credit for showing us, with his clear style and careful research, a vibrant interpretation of Tina’s life journey; her love for the Lord and for Saint Francis; her generous service, first devoted to Catholic Action in our Diocese of Ales – Terralba, when Bishop TEDDE – as soon as he was installed – called her to be the Diocesan President, a post she held for sixteen years. In addition, there was her service in the Secular Franciscan Order, at the regional, national and international level.”
Her writings will certainly be welcomed as a grace and a sure guide, not only by Secular Franciscans, but also by the whole of the diverse Franciscan family and by many Christians who strive for evangelical perfection, because what she has written is a lucid and faithful presentation of spirituality in keeping with the Saint of Assisi. Moreover, it is also the reality she lived with love and passion.
Friar Silvano BIANCO, OFM Conv.