Br. Flavio Roberto Carraro, former General Minister and bishop emeritus of Verona, Italy, quietly departed from us on Friday, June 17, 2022, in the Capuchin infirmary of Conegliano (TV). He was born in Sandon (VE) on February 3, 1932, and entered the Capuchin Friars Minor of the Province of Venice at a very young age, taking the habit in the novitiate in Bassano del Grappa (VI) on Aug. 14, 1948. He took perpetual vows on March 23, 1953, and was ordained a priest in Venice by Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (who was later declared a saint on March 16, 1957). He spent his first years of pastoral experience as a formator and teacher at the Seraphic Seminary in Thiene (VI) until 1962, when he was sent to Jerusalem as a student at the “Studium Biblicum Franciscanum”. He later obtained a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1965. The following year, Br. Flavio was appointed Director of the theologate “Laurentianum” in Venice, where he also served as Lecturer in Sacred Scripture. In 1970, amid a post-conciliar atmosphere, he was appointed rector of the International College St. Lawrence of Brindisi in Rome, and then returned shortly thereafter to the Province of Venice, where he was elected Vicar Provincial (1972) and Provincial Minister (1975-1981). Our gracious Lord, however, desired that he should continue to serve his friars with an even greater heart, and so, the following year he was elected General Minister in the 1982 Chapter and re-elected in the next one of 1988. Br. Flavio gave his best through his love and dedication to the friars around the world by visiting all the circumscriptions, founding new provinces and expanding the Order's presence by opening new missions. Among his many enduring qualities was his unfailing memory, enabling him to recall the names of all the friars and the attention he gave to each individual person, even well after the visit. In 1996, St. John Paul II named him bishop of Arezzo-Cortona-San Sepulcro, Italy; he was consecrated bishop in Arezzo Cathedral on August 7, 1996. The same pontiff promoted him to the see of Verona on July 25, 1998, where Br. Flavio remained bishop until July 8, 2007, when he resigned due to age limit. Nonetheless, he was to welcome Benedict XVI there during the National Ecclesial Convention of 2006 in Verona. He returned to community life with the friars in July 2007, and in 2017 was transferred for his quiescence at the infirmary in Conegliano (TV) preparing for his final encounter with the risen Jesus, whom he loved so much.
The Capuchin Order, the Church and the “missio ad gentes” were the three horizons that marked the rich life of this humble son of St. Francis of Assisi. Br. Flavio succeeded in leading his Order in the wake of the renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council, through Plenary Councils of the Order (1981, 1986, 1992), in the publication of the Capuchin Sources (which he desired strongly), in his capacity as a young secretary (1963-1964) to Br. Clemente Vicentini, Apostolic Administrator of Foggia when St. Pio of Pietrelcina was living, and as President of the Union of Superiors General (1991-1994). A weaver of relationships, he nurtured his profound bond of communion with the universal Church by participating in the 1987, 1990, 1994 Synod of Bishops and the Assembly for Latin America in Santo Domingo (1992). Wherever the Church requested the presence of Capuchin Friars Minor, Br. Flavio, as far as he was able, responded by generously sending new personnel. It was, however, the missionary commitment of the friars and of the priests in his dioceses that most kindled the heart of Br. Flavio, friar and bishop. In the Order, he quickly initiated the autonomy of young Circumscriptions wherever possible, encouraging local superiors in terms of fraternity and the formation of candidates rooted in those territories. He spent himself on the animation of Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns and many other sisters of religious institutes of Franciscan and non-Franciscan inspiration, and he perceived in culture a special way for spreading the charism in other countries. Not surprisingly, in 1992 St. John Paul II wanted him as a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Finally, Br. Flavio, during his years of service in leadership, had the joy of seeing so many of his Capuchin brethren raised to the heights of sanctity, not least of whom where St. Leopold Mandić (1983) and St. Pius of Pietrelcina (2002), two saints of mercy.
Br. Flavio Roberto was a “father” to many friars, many priests and many people; and as is always the case with a father, when he leaves us –albeit as quietly as he did— a void remains; but there is also a precious legacy. While, through the offering of our suffrage, we entrust him to the Lord of life so that he may be received in His mercy and enjoy the fullness of the Resurrection, we place ourselves before the Lord and ask for the grace to treasure his witness as an authentic and passionate friar who was able to infect many brothers with a desire to respond seriously to their vocation. He went forth to meet all the brothers where they lived, visiting the Circumscriptions of the Order, he wanted to see their faces and hear their names, which he was always able to recall, thanks to his prodigious memory: he will remember to do the same even now before the Lord. He loved his brothers.
May the Lord, who rewards a hundredfold those who give of themselves for love of him, be now the fulfillment of all his labors.