On February 18, 2017, feast of PIME martyr Saint Alberic Crescitelli (郭西德), at 17:00, Fr. Fernando Galbiati, aged 84, died at Lecco, Italy of cancer. Born on November 14, 1932 at Bussero, diocese of Milan, in 1943 he entered the PIME seminary in Monza. On June 25, 1956 he was ordained priest in Milan by cardinal Montini. The following year he left for Hong Kong. During his staying in Hong Kong, he studied and obtained several diplomas: he was registered as “qualified teacher” at the Department of Education in Hong Kong (1960), obtained a doctorate in Political Science and Economics at the University La Sapienza in Rome (1976), became Doctor of Philosophy at Oxford University in England (1982) with the thesis “P’eng Pai and the Hai-Lu-Feng Soviet”, published by the Stanford University Press, California (1985) and became member of the New York Academy of Science (1998).
In Hong Kong Fr. Galbiati carried out pastoral work in various parishes: Saint Jude, Saints Peter and Paul in Yuen Long, Saint Vincent (1962-65), Mother of Good Counsel (1966-70; 1989-1998), Holy Spirit (1975-83), Saints Peter and Paul in Aberdeen (1998-99). For a few years (1960-62) he taught philosophy at the Holy Spirit Seminary. He was active in educational and social fields, promoted youth activities, set up groups of parishioners for visiting families and giving financial support to people in need. He took part in the publication of the first Chinese Hymnal for the diocese of Hong Kong
From 1971 to 1975 he was in charge of a PIME NGO for humanitarian projects in mission territories. In 1970-71 he participated in Rome in the PIME Special Updating Assembly and later in the 9th General Assembly in which he was elected Superior General.
During his mandate as Superior General (1983-1989) several events took place: admission of 62 new members (an average of ten per year) into PIME; beatification of Fr. Giovanni Mazzucconi (February 19, 1984), martyred in Papua New Guinea; tragic death of Fr. Tullio Favali in Mindanao, Philippines (April 11, 1985); opening of a new field of work in Taiwan (January 9, 1986); affiliation of the PIME Philosophy and Theology College to the Pontifical Urban University (May 9, 1987); publication of the Decree of Father Paolo Manna as Venerable (February 18, 1989).
Completed his mandate as PIME Superior General, he returned to Hong Kong, but in 1999 he was recalled to Rome for a service to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. First he served as Secretary General of the Pontifical Missionary Union (1999-2003), then as International Coordinator of the Pontifical Missionary Societies and as Secretary of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith (2004-2005). He was given the task to draw up the new Statute of the Pontifical Missionary Societies (2005).
The work carried out at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples was appreciated by a letter that the Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Ivan Dias, sent to him at the end of his service. “I feel the need to express you the most sincere gratitude for the work done in the recent years in a number of positions you held at our Office, the Cardinal said. A work characterized by fidelity, competence and zeal for the pursuit of the high purposes that the missionary activity of the Church requires in our time “.
Relieved from his duty on account of his age, he lived for a few years at the PIME General House in Rome. In 2015, for health reasons, he moved to the PIME Rest House of Lecco, where he died.
The funeral was held on Monday, 20 February, at the PIME House of Lecco. Burial took place at the Institute cemetery of nearby Villa Grugana. May he rest in peace.