Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Alumni Obituaries

Fr. Harry Peterson, SDB

Fr. HARRY LESLIE
PETERSON BUCKLER (homily given at funeral in Chile)



Coming
together in the Church called "National Gratitude", which reminds us
of the original presence of the Salesians in Chile, and under the mantel of
Mary Help of Christians, we have come together to pray for the eternal rest of
FR. Harry Peterson. His departure was a surprise and has sadden us. As a
community of faith we desire give thanks to God for the gift which He gave us
in this brother, and we wish to pray for him in his Passing in a attitude of
faith.



The
experience of death presents us the mystery of our existence in its deepest
roots. In the death of a brother, a part of our history departs with him. To
every human being, the death of a beloved one is an opportunity to stop in our
journey and to let ourselves be touched by the experience of our finitude. It
is an experience which raises questions about ourselves. It is as though an chasm
opens up at our feet. This chasm invites us to look at our own interior. An
abyss which is like a mirror: it makes us look at ourselves and question the
meaning of our passing through history, of the meaning of our life y of our
death. It is an experience of being exposed to the weather. Some may experience
this like an emptiness. We are called to assume this as people of faith and
consider it as an opportunity, in order to make room for the Lord, the architect
and constructor of our permanent city, and for His Spirit, who makes all things
new.



The
Word of God which has been proclaimed helps us to go deep into this
opportunity.



We
received life as a gift, a grace, and, in this gesture, full of mystery, we are
invited to discover the gratuity, the self-giving, the openness to the other,
as a key to life in its fullness. Thus it was that Abraham obeyed the calling
and left behind his securities to go forth to the land which he was to receive
in inheritance. Detachment, the attitude of a pilgrim, going out, as Pope
Francis would say, travelling light, like one who is always on the road. Jesus
proclaimed this in the Beatitudes where he showed the way of simplicity, of
mercy, of justice and of peace, in order to discover the way of the Kingdom
which continues to grow and to give us joy therein. This openness and
self-giving resounds in the life of Fr. Harry.



He
is remembered for his good disposition, his clear mindedness and sincere
restlessness to search the Will of God; he was received into the Salesian
novitiate the September 7, 1949. He made his first profession September 8,
1950, in New Jersey. His initial formation was completed in our house of
studies, La Crocetta, in Turin, Italy between 1957 and 1961, He obtained the
certificate (license) in Sacred Scripture. 



"To
do the Will of God is my desire." was the motto that he chose for his
priesthood. He was ordained February 11, 1961, being 31 years old. After a time
of priestly ministry in his country, in December, 1967, he offered the Superior
General, Fr. Louis Ricceri to go as a missionary to Latin America. Fr. Harry
remembered the answer arrived Jan. 31, 1968, and in August of that year, he was
destined to Manaus, Brasil; later that was changed to Bahia Blanca, Argentine,
which was later changed to Patagonia. Since his trappist brother, Fr George was
already in Chile, it was decided that Fr. Harry should come to our Province. In
January, 1970 he came definitively to our country. A different culture, new
faces, new language, different from that which he had learned in his home town,
Loretto, Kentucky, where he was born December 23, 1930: willingness as a
pilgrim, as a disciple!



What
is it that can move a man to make this steps? He was moved by a generous faith
in God as Merciful Father, by a desire to announce the Gospel, as witness of
the lifestyle of Don Bosco. The experience of faith which began in the
simplicity of his family, was the moving factor of his life. A family of
country people, a family of daily prayer, a numerous family with 12 brothers
and sisters. Three brothers became priests.



From
the experience of gratuitous love received and of gratuitous love given to
others, he was rooted in the author of the gift, the God of life. He who is
rooted in the Lord bears fruit. This is the prophetic novelty of the
Beatitudes, lived out by one who is conscious of being in the hands of
God. 



During
his 47 years in Chile, Fr. Harry was priest, pastor, evangelist by radio,
writer of bulletins and pamphlets for Evangelization. As a sportsman, he ran
marathons like other young people; he was a good swimmer in the ocean; a
infatigable trotter. Also, he was a healer of souls, and sensitive to the
reality of the world and of the Church. I remember that in 1975 I met him in
the Parish of Mary Help of Christians in Punta Arenas. His simplicity, his ready
smile, his sincere gaze, with no deceit, his firm hand shake, greeting you,
looking in your eyes, his words which spoke of God as a good Father who loves
us and  the Holy Spirit who encourages
us: all this remained printed in the person who listened to him.



His
apostolic passion was known in the Sanctuary of Mary Help of Christians in
Punta Arenas, in this Sanctuary of Mary Help of Christians in the Alameda,
Santiago, in Puerto Natales, St. Francis de Sales in Porvenir. Also in the
Sanctuary of Mary Help of Christians in Concepción, and in Talca, in the Parish
of St. Dominic Savio en San Ramon, and in Iquique.