It's not the kind of news you want to hear, but the man who ran Nyumbani Children's home, where I was a volunteer died. He was 80 and an inspiration to many. The man who didn't know me from a whole in the wall took me out to dinner 3 times and would not allow me to pay even once. When he heard I was leaving to head north, he stood up during the morning prayers ( which all staff usually attended) and said a blessing for me, even though I wasn't a Catholic. God bless you father, you stood up for those kids more then you know.
You should read the obit:
By Associated Press | November 21, 2006
NAIROBI, Kenya -- The Rev. Angelo D'Agostino trained in urology at Tufts New England Medical Center, served in the Air Force as a surgeon, and became the first Catholic priest to be a psychiatrist specializing in psychoanalysis. But his legacy, his colleagues say, was built in a rented home in an African suburb.
Father D'Agostino, who opened one of the first orphanages for HIV-positive children in Kenya and fought to make AIDS drugs affordable to the poor, died yesterday of a heart attack. He was 80.
Father D'Agostino had been hospitalized for a week with abdominal pain and died after surgery, said Sister Mary Owens, who has worked at the Nyumbani Orphanage since it opened in 1992, just outside Kenya's capital of Nairobi.
"He was very inspiring; he always pushed you beyond your comfort zones," Owens told the Associated Press. "He was very much a man of compassion. He was mirroring the compassion of God. He reached out to everybody."
Father D'Agostino -- known at the orphanage as "Father Dag" -- opened Nyumbani with just three HIV-positive children.
"They were babies, abandoned in hospital," Owens said. "It was a day of tremendous joy when we finally welcomed the first three children."
With aid from the Jesuits and from fund-raising trips he made back in New England, Father D'Agostino expanded the home into a compound that cares for scores of children. Next week, the compound will become part of a community with the opening of Nyumbani Village, for AIDS orphans who were taken in by a grandparent or other caregiver. The village will help its occupants "sustain themselves through agriculture, poultry, dairy projects as well as handicrafts and external services," according to its website.
Nyumbani is the Swahili word for "home."
Two million of Kenya's 33 million people have HIV, although the number of new infections has been declining. In recent years, Father D'Agostino pushed for cheaper AIDS drugs and sued five primary schools to force them to admit HIV-positive children.
"Once they [the schools] find the child is from Nyumbani, they find some sort of excuse like they're too full, they don't have any room or whatever," Father D'Agostino told the Associated Press in 2004.
Angelo D'Agostino grew up in Providence, one of six children of Italian immigrants. His father, a construction worker, professed an antagonism toward religion. Despite this, two of the D'Agostino children became priests, another a Christian brother, and one a nun.
Father D'Agostino graduated from St. Michael's College in Vermont and Tufts University Medical School. During the Korean War, he joined the Air Force and worked in a military hospital near Washington.
His calling for the priesthood began with a retreat led by a Jesuit priest, Father D'Agostino had said. "I finally realized there was more to life than cutting up, and sewing up, people," he told the Washington Post.
After his discharge from the Air Force in 1955, Father D'Agostino joined a Jesuit center in Pennsylvania that was dedicated to religious meditation and study and tending a farm. No modern technology or conveniences or communications were permitted; conversation was in Latin.
Those years, he told the Post, were "probably two of the happiest years of my life."
Intent on becoming a medical missionary, Father D'Agostino learned his superiors had other plans.
"The Jesuits were always in the forefront of intellectual battles, and at the time there was a war going on between Catholicism and psychiatry," Father D'Agostino said. "The novice master thought maybe with my background in medicine I could talk to both sides. As a psychiatrist, I might be able to present to psychiatrists the validity of religious belief."
He obtained a residency in psychiatry at Georgetown University and trained at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute.
He was ordained in 1966.
In addition to offering services at his psychiatric practice in Washington, he established the Center for Religion and Psychiatry at George Washington University. He directed the center until 1980, when he joined the Jesuit Refugee Service and was sent to Thailand to set up a camp for refugees. The following year, he went to Kenya to cooordinate the refugee work of Jesuit priests in several countries and to establish an institute on psychiatry and religion.
© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company