The passing to the eternal Schoenstatt of Father José Antonio Arbulú Atoche “Toño
The Schoenstatt Family - Peru, bid farewell to Father José Antonio Arbulú Atoche. Father Toño, as he was known by everyone, was the founder of the Schoenstatt Family in Callao, a great promoter of Schoenstatt in Peru and a member of the first course of Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests in Peru.
By: Paola Andrea Aristizábal Giraldo
Father Toño is Our Father
Father Toño was born in Lima, but he defined himself as a Chalaco – coming from Callao – from the heart, which made his dedication to this community beyond measure. He was characterized by a deep love for Mary, since he chose her as his mother and protector from a very young age, and had a deep love for God and the Church, thus becoming a living testimony of love, dedication and obedience, for those who knew him.
He was ordained a priest by Saint John Paul II during his pastoral visit to Peru in 1985, which inspired his reflections and liturgies. He always lived his priesthood in the image of Jesus Christ and was inspired by Father Kentenich, because it was his spirituality that helped him to be faithful to his mission. At some point he mentioned: “In the pursuit of enjoying spirituality, I found it in Schoenstatt, which has helped me a lot in supporting my vocation, especially finding in Mary the mother and spiritual master of my being”.
He was always characterized by being a father to everyone, by his self-giving, his humor and the special attachment he felt for each one of those who approached him. In the parishes where he exercised his ministry, he always carried the Schoenstatt movement as a banner, respecting and valuing the different spiritualities that exist in the church, a trait that always left its mark, since he always made them see in him a father who loved the Church.
Encounter with Schoenstatt
Between the years 1980 and 1982, Father Toño was studying theology in Spain and it was there that he learned about Schoenstatt’s pedagogy through the now Schoenstatt Father Fernando Baeza, whom Father Toño visited in 1988 in Bellavista, Chile. There the real bond to the Shrine and to Schoenstatt was generated. He was amazed to know that he, as a diocesan priest, could have a place within the structure of the movement, as he said: “I was fascinated to find a twig in the little tree for me”.
He returned to Peru with his heart aflame for this great mission, which took on meaning when at the end of that same year Fr. Sidney Fones visited him and invited him to be the founder of Schoenstatt in Callao, a mission he assumed on December 8, 1988. In 1990 he returned to Chile to seal his Covenant of Love and then, along with other priests, he formed the founding course of the Federation of Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests of Peru.
The mission continues
In his last days, he did not stop thinking about his spiritual children, calling them even from the clinic, worrying about keeping the connection with them always and taking advantage of those last moments to say “thank you”. Although Father Toño’s absence is hard for the family in Peru, the call is to be always faithful to the mission, just as he was, who despite his health condition, was always willing to give himself for his family until the end.
As an international Schoenstatt family we unite in prayer for the soul of a Father, who knew how to be the face of Christ and the servant of Schoenstatt for the world of today.