Young priest whom Pope encouraged in battle against cancer dies

PFranciscoRencoret 130816 Father Francisco Rencoret.

A man of God. Someone who endured illness with faith and fortitude until the end. This is how those who knew Father Francisco Rencoret remembered him.

The 35-year-old Chilean priest died of cancer early August 13.

Ordained in 2013, Fr. Rencoret had been studying Canon Law at the Gregorian University in Rome. He was forced to return home to Chile in order to receive cancer treatments after his diagnosis.

In recent weeks, expectations of recovery had increased, as tests showed a noticeable improvement of the sarcoma with metastasis in the lungs which had been detected. But it was two unexpected brain tumors that finally took his life.

In June, Fr. Rencoret received an unexpected phone call from Pope Francis. Father told CNA that the Holy Father had heard about his illness and called him to "find out about my health and to tell me that he was praying for me, to give me a lot of support, encouragement and the love of the Church."

Before finishing the conversation, the priest told the Holy Father that "I am offering some of my sufferings for your vocation, difficulties and sorrows" and that they were "very much in communion because in fact God is merciful."

It is precisely with this peace that the young priest lived out his last moments in this world, recalled his friend Father Mauricio Valdivia, who had been his fellow student at the Santiago Pontifical Major Seminary.

"I believe that (he) was able to understand in one way or another, not without difficulty, that God gave him the gift of this time to prepare himself, and I believe the time was ripe for him to meet the Lord. He experienced such a radical self-surrender since he said that he wanted to be saved more than he wanted to be cured, and from that perspective he experienced it as a privileged opportunity," the priest said.

"He always looked very peaceful," he added.

"He was able to prepare his family, conveying to them peace and strength," Fr. Valdivia continued. "(I even) had the opportunity to go with him to the clinic, I stayed once overnight there with him and we talked about a lot of things and heard each other's confessions, in that gift of priestly friendship, with that tranquility of the heart of knowing how to seek God's will."

Fr. Valdivia recalled that in his vocation as a priest, Fr. Rencoret had a special compassion for the simplest, the most needy. "There was no beggar in the parish who didn't know Pancho. He helped a network of street people."

"During our first assignment there was a man who was bedridden and (Fr. Rencoret) got together clothes and things to bring to him. He also did this with a lot of other people…he had the desire to bring comfort to everyone in need and to bring them the mercy of God," he said.

"His friendship was a blessing to me and just to know today that we have a brother in heaven interceding for us. We are praying for him but also especially for his parents and his family to cope with the pain and so they might find consolation."

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