Augustine “Nett” Legarda

 
From the Philippines to New Zealand, for God. (28.5.1950 – 29.9.2013)
Nett Legarda

It was not by chance that he attended college in his own city – Manila, Philippines – and found as professor, an Italian focolarino who also introduced him to his future companions of adventure. Nett attributed this to a particular plan of God who is Love and who wanted to open vast horizons to him. Struck by the evangelical message which he saw translated into life in the Focolare, Nett was among the first Filipino young people who enthusiastically got involved in the Gen experience which was arising in different parts of the world. He wanted to go deeper into this new lifestyle and asked to pass some time in the town of Loppiano (Florence). And there, he felt the call to give his life to God as a focolarino. So he remained in the town for another two years to complete his training. “I have made a tremendous choice– he confided in one of his writings – to live for unity. I feel that it is the only important thing, and I realise that it is in Jesus Forsaken that I find it possible. Jesus is everything to me. I want to pursue the entire path that leads me, like Him, towards the Father.”

In the Melbourne focolare

His first destination was the focolare of Manila, from where not long after, he left with three other focolarini for Australia to open in 1974, the focolare in Melbourne. In 2002 there was another jump: he went to New Zealand to constitute the focolare in Wellington. In all these years, Nett worked as a high school teacher, and was loved by his students and colleagues. His inculturation in the “new continent” rose from the depths of his soul, as he himself affirmed in a letter in 1982: “I see my future life in the hope of living at the service of those who pass me by, without wanting anything in return, only so that all may be one.”

Nett greets Chiara Lubich during the meeting of Focolare delegates in Rome in 2002.

His writings also show a particular thrust towards God invading his soul: “I see,” he wrote in 1975, “that I have to draw from the life of the Holy Trinity to realise also here, God’s kingdom.” And in 2001: “I place my trust only in the Holy Spirit. Only in this way can I live the New Evangelisation radically.”

The news of his illness triggered a moving wave of affection and solidarity, fruit of the love that he sowed in the hearts of many. For them, Nett had been “a spiritual father and mother, a true friend who gave his heart with love, encouraging us along the path of the Gospel.” Up to his last days Nett was gentle and kind to all: never a complaint, he was always serene and dignified. “I believe in the love of God – he wrote. I offer all these sufferings for interreligious dialogue and peace in the Middle East. I am saying my unconditioned “yes” to all that God wants of me in these moments of grace.” On 29 September 2013 he serenely left for heaven at the age of 63.

As the spiritual guide of his life, Chiara Lubich had given him the Word: “I am going to prepare a place for you” (Jn14, 2), a place that Nett has conquered in Paradise, living in fullness his splendid, total donation to God and his brethren.


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