Posted August 03, 2015:
Romeo Maione: A Modern Prophet

by Paul Harris. (Excerpted and adapted by the editor from an obituary.)

Romeo Maione, a friend of Madonna House, and a friend of Catherine Doherty’s from before the founding of Madonna House, died on May 12th at the age of 90.

He and his family have property in this area, and the older MH staff remember his incisive talks about social justice which he gave to the community over the years.

Throughout his life, Rom was one of Canada’s foremost Catholic laymen—a social activist, an indefatigable lecturer, a writer, a street philosopher, and a teacher.

Many see him as a modern prophet.

Rom’s career embraced a staggering variety of diverse challenges, and they all started from his humble beginnings working in a factory in Montreal. This experience gave him a sense of the demeaning and dehumanizing aspects of factory work.

He had other such experiences. Rom once commented on his concern for justice in the third world with the following story: "Recently I was in Latin America. I watched a funeral of a child pass by. In that particular country at that time, 300 infants died out of every 1,000 born.

"The mother, like other mothers in her community, was saying: ‘It is the will of God.’

"I could not accept this.

No, it is not the will of God. It is the will of the corrupt government in that country that spends millions of dollars on arms and the crumbs off the military table, and takes it away from the poor.

"That child died," continued Rom: ‘because the mother didn’t get the ten cents worth of vaccine her baby needed.’ The infant mortality rate is high in third world countries because we haven’t lived up to the Gospel directive of Jesus to share with those who are the weakest and poorest of our world.

"In that split second at that funeral, I inherited the world with all its agony and sinfulness."

Rom’s work for social justice began with the Young Christian Workers (YCW). He subsequently became international president in Brussels, Belgium.

From there he went on to become assistant director of the Social Action Department of the Canadian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and assistant director of international affairs with the Canadian Labor Conference.

He later became director of International Affairs for CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency). And this is only a partial list of his positions and social action involvements.

In the last years of his life, Romeo did not "go gently into that good night." He took to his computer to continue there his fight to seek justice for the weak, the poor and the marginalized and to plead for continual renewal and reform in the Church.

Finally, let me end by saying that Romeo Maione’s life was grounded in God. Perhaps his life as a modern day prophet could be summed by this comment he once made:

"Love is the message which Jesus came into the world to give us. The infinite and eternal energy of Love will save the world and save persons. This is the only energy that can declare war on evil and come out a victor."

Paul Harris, a former journalist for The Toronto Globe and Mail, has been a friend of Rom Maione for sixty years, since their days with the Young Christian Workers in Toronto.


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