Father Gioele, former parish priest of Beer Sheba, sent us an article from his present parish in north Italy, where they will celebrate the beatification of a native of the region on Saturday, March 18, 2017.
Joseph Mayr-Nusser was born in the city of Bolzano (south Tyrol in north Italy) on December 27, 1910 to a family of peasants. His father died during the First World War and his mother educated her seven children in faith and prayer. Already as a child Joseph showed great intellectual promise and was interested in astronomy and theology but because of the family’s poverty, he studied accounting and began to work in a textile enterprise. He was very active volunteering in the Saint Vincent Society (that took care of the poor) and in the Catholic youth movement. Because of his leadership qualities, he became the chairman of both associations.
He and his friends were greatly occupied with the social situation and the spirit of the times. For them, it was clear that the principles of Nazism were opposed to the Christian faith. On May 26, 1942, he married Hildegard, who was a colleague at work and in his activities in the Catholic movements and a year later their first born son arrived, Albert.
In September 1943, Germany conquered the region of South Tyrol and thereafter Joseph received an enlistment order to join the S.S, a practice that contradicted international law as Joseph was an Italian citizen. He was sent for a preparatory S.S. course to the town of Konitz (today Poland). In one of his letters to his wife, he wrote: “It is better to die than to abandon the way of one’s moral obligation”. In his process of discernment, we can understand that he felt supported by God and his family.
On October 4, 1944, a day before the swearing in ceremony during which he had to profess an oath to Hitler, before all the soldiers, Joseph Mayr-Nusser told the officer who was preparing the ceremony that he was not prepared to take the oath because of his Christian faith. He explained to one of his friends, “If no one has the courage to say to them that he does not agree with the National-Socialist ideas, nothing will ever change.”
He was arrested and the court in Danzig found him guilty and sent him to the Dachau concentration camp. He died in the train in the wake of the torture he had endured.
Read about him on the internet site in his honor here