Rod Gorton: Loving one another is the culmination of charity

 
Official of the United States Navy, musician, father of six children. One of the first members of the school for families in the Focolare’s permanent Mariapolis in Loppiano. Rod left this world on November 14, 2013.
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Rod Gorton, married focolarino, left this world on November 14, 2013 following an accident while carrying out an act of love.

He was born in Boston, USA in 1933 and became acquainted with the ideal of unity in the 1960’s. His childhood was marked by the separation of his parents: “At six I found myself without a Dad and, because of the family environment, without God.” During this period he was helped by his passion for music. At twenty years of age he joined the Naval Academy and became an officer of the United States Navy. Navy regulations required him to attend a church on Sundays and this is where Rod first heard about God. He began to have questions: “Are these people all crazy? Or am I the crazy one?”

Following a long search and still plagued by doubts, he realized something had changed within him: “I believed!” But he soon discovered many contradictions in the new life, because he didn’t find anyone who took the Gospel seriously.

He became a Navy officer and began to travel around the world. He was attracted by the missionaries that he met in several countries and after four years joined a seminary to become a missionary priest. But he was still searching . . .

Rod with Chiara Lubich in Loppiano at 1971

In a Living City magazine that he picked up by chance, he read some words written by Chiara Lubich: “If you want to win over a city to the love of Christ . . . gather your friends who share the same sentiments . . .  unite with them in the name of Christ . . . promise one another constant mutual love . . .” Here was what he had been searching for his whole life. He also found there an invitation to a Mariapolis. At the Mariapolis he was powerfully struck by the sense of family he saw among the people: Blacks, whites, yellow, young, old, rich and poor. . . and the Gospel was the basis of it all, it was the basis for all these people.”  

In November 1966 he left for the permanent Mariapolis in Loppiano where he spent six years as a member of the Gen Rosso Musical Band. He could play the guitar, trumpet and harmonica quite well. Referring to the Gospel promises he wrote: “There I found the hundredfold of fathers, brothers, homes and, even more, I came to know my God: Jesus in his abandonment. Jesus forsaken who [had transformed suffering into love] had illuminated every “why” in my life and in Him I also found the keyfor beginning a family of my own.” With a straightforwardness and simplicity that were so typical of him, Rod was continually giving of himself and being attentive to the needs of those around him. This was something that stayed with him throughout his life.

The Gorton family

One day he met Mazia, from Austria. “With just a few words, we realized we both had the same flame burning in our hearts: to form a family for God.” He wrote to Chiara Lubich: “Because I first said yes to God, I can now say yes to Mazia.”  

Rod and Mazia married in January of 1972 at the headquarters of the Movement in Rocca di Papa, Italy, during a meeting of married focolarini. Among the witnesses to their marriage were Igino Giordani, Spartaco Lucarini and Chiara who gave a Word of Life to their new family: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).

They had six children: Cielo, Clarence, Sara, Peter, Giovanna and Pina. Mazia and Rod were always available and generously giving of themselves for the countless activities in Loppiano, where they lived and worked mainly for the hundreds of families who spent time there. So many people were touched by their love and witness.

“Now we believe that Rod is immersed in the joy that never ends,” wrote Maria Voce, “certain that there Above he will continue to watch over Mazia and the children whom he so much loved.” We would like to think that he will also be watching over us as we continue to work as he did for universal brotherhood.  

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  1. Teyette

    I met Rod when I was in Loppiano 2005 Scuola Gen. He had a very great voice doing English translations. Was so intrigued as to how he delivered with much love and imagined how he looked like. Finally met him when he came down from the translators booth and thanked him profusely. Indeed, he was very simple and full of fire as he welcomed and encouraged me to go ahead with the challenges that go with the genschool and even opened my eyes to the vocation of married life. Grazie Rod! Sei un dono.

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  2. Raul Artieda

    Los conociomos en 1987, de paso por Loppiano, junto a mi esposa. Alternamos con él y su esposa. Y nos acompañaron a conocer la Ciudadela. Ahora estamos muy cerca de la Mariápolis Lía (Argentina), donde decidimos venir a colaborar como voluntarios a la tarea diaria de ayudar a seguir construyendo, esta maqueta de amor, que conocimos en Loppiamo, y a la que Rod nos hizo enamorar.

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  3. Ulrike Yeomans

    Rod, at every meeting in Rome you came to greet the group from GB in a special way, always joyful and ‘the first to love’. This love, this friendship still lasts, it outlives death and helps us all to go ahead together. Thank you, and thank you to your family for your great openness and love! Please continue to smile on us all!
    Uli from England

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  4. Salvatore Paruzzo

    Rod, che sorpresa vedere la notizia della tua dipartita.
    Quando, alla fine degli anni sessanta, suonavi la tromba o cantavi Jim il cowboy, era bellissimo il tuo volto, luminoso come di un Angelo.Ho assistito al Gen Rosso a Caltanissetta, Enna, Rocca di Papa…
    Certamente farai giá parte del Coro Angelico.
    Sono rimasto lieto di vedere la bella famiglia che hai messo su con Mazia.
    Rod, prega per noi.
    Dom Salvatore Paruzzo, Vescovo della Diocesi di Ourinhos (Sao Paulo) in Brasile.

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  5. Franci Sodré

    Grazie Rod, grazie Mazia, ci siamo conosciuti a Loppiano, la vostra gioia e amore rimangono nella mia anima! un saluto speciale ai vostri figli!ARRIVEDERCI Rod! un abbraccio brasiliano, Franci

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  6. João Pedro e Susana Fouto Silva

    Ancora in cielo lui ci guarda è ci guida.Ci prendi per mano è ci aiuta a essere imediato è concreto nel amore verso l’altro. Rod, grazie per il tuo amore e gioia…un giorno quando quando ce ne andiamo di casa, abbiamo trovato Rod a tagliare i rami di cipressi di fronte alla casa di S. Giuseppe, ę abbiamo chiesto perché non chiedeva aiuto… ma lui súbito risponde: ” non posso aspetare… per fare la volontá do Dio”… Lui era cosi…si dimenticava in noi, in ogni Persona che gli passava a canto

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  7. Frank and Augie Rillera

    Thank you for your life lived always in charity,Rod. You were simple and always ready to serve others with a smile. We got to know you, Mazia and some of your children when we lived in the apartment below yours at Scuola Loreto for 7 months in 2000. You embraced with an open heart many families from all over the world and you will always be remembered. We send our love to Mazia and all your children . Till we meet again ,Rod !
    Frank and Augie Rillera

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  8. Lodi Motuku

    Thank you to all the writers of this article of Rod. it’s so beautiful to read about your life, Rod. Che la tua musica continui a risuonare in Paradiso… My condolences to Marzia and family especially to Sara.

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  9. a ntonio giardina

    Indimenticabile.Lui e la sua tromba.Un modo straodinario per aiutare le famiglia ad aprire la porta.
    Ora avremo per sempre il suono della sua anima nel nostro cuore.
    Antonio

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