The Life of Fr Gabino

       Life of Fr Gabino 1915 - 2011  


When he was born the doctor predicted he would not survive the day.  Obviously he did and, what was unknown at his birth, he was to dedicate his life to God as an Augustinian Recollect


 Fr Gabino was born on 25th October 1915 in Durango, N Spain.  He entered the Augustinian Recollect Novitiate on 4th November 1930 and made his Simple Profession there on 5th November 1931.  On 8th August 1938 he made his Solemn Profession in Rome.  He moved to England and was ordained on 26th March 1939 in Paignton, Devon.  Fr Gabino lived in Ivybridge from 1938 until 1955 when he was sent to Honiton.  He lived and worked at Holy Family Parish and St Rita’s Centre until October 2010 when he became too ill to continue.  He spent some time in Honiton and the RD&E Hospitals before being transferred to a Nursing Home in Plympton run by the Augustinian Sisters; they looked after him until his death on Tuesday 5th July.

At the age of 23 he was diagnosed with a chronic illness and so avoided serving in the Spanish Civil war, as he was declared unfit for military service.
He was ordained a priest in 1939 but he was, among other things: Chicken farmer, electrician, printer, disc jockey, painter and decorator, teacher, novice master to Fr Denis, Fr Patrick and Bro Diviney and last but by no means least he was Confessor to the king of Spain.
Fr Gabino Areitio Bereincua was born of 25th October 1915, in the high mountains of Northern Spain. When he was twelve years old he entered the Order of Augustinian Recollects at the college of St Joseph in Lodosa.  After three years studying philosophy he was sent to Rome to study theology. While he was there he saw the rise of Fascism under Mussolini and even had the dubious privilege of seeing Hitler when he visited Rome. In 1938 he arrived on the shores of England but just one year after his arrival the Second World War broke out.  He would be unable to leave England for his first holiday back to Spain until 1947.
            He was Ordained in Paignton, Devon on 26 June 1939. In the 1950’s Fr. Gabino along with Fr. Ernest Fry decided to build up the devotion to St Rita in this country. They bought an second-hand printing press and began St Rita’s Promotions. Over fifty years the Promotions have built the devotion to the degree that they can count the devotees in the many thousands and from many different countries.
            When he reached sixty-five we all thought he might retire - but no. When he reached seventy-five we were convinced he would stop work. ’No way!’ he said, ‘the good Lord will decide when I retire and until the I will continue God’s great work.’ He finally retired from work when he was 94.
The Augustinian Recollects have all known Fr Gabino as a great man and learned a lot from him from him; indeed we have all tried to be like him as he has been an excellent role model for us.
            So what is that makes him stand out as an example for all religious?
            He was 94 but other people reach 94 although not many, but those who reach 94 are usually in wheel chairs or at least have walking sticks. Very few have a full working day. But just being a healthy 94 year old did not make him so special.
            Even that fact that he spent over 80 of those 94 years in religious life, dedicated to God, does not make him stand out from many other of his fellow religious who are even older.
            So what is it that marks Fr Gabino out as someone who is special?  It was love. Love of the order- since he was 13 he gave his whole life and work to the Order of Augustinian Recollects which he loved.
            Love of his work, there is no need to tell you how much he loved his work we could persuade him to retire.
            Love of his priesthood. As a parish priest and confessor you could find few as compassionate kind and understanding as Gabino.
            Love and compassion for his fellow religious, he was not always an old man but when he was younger he was always concerned for the welfare for the sick and the elderly in the community.
            Love of the Vicariate if you read the history of the Vicariate of England you will see his hand in every generation and every aspect of the work that was undertaken.
            Love of prayer, he faithfully said his prayers in common with his brothers and never missed one day or even one prayer except though illness and those occasions have been so few they don’t even bear mention.
            Love of God - is manifested in the fact that all his life was given to God. In a very special way he has spread that love of God and even his love throughout the world through St Rita's Promotions. From crumbling stables he has built the Promotions not as a source of income, although that helps greatly, but rather for the faith and devotion to the saints of the Order throughout the British Isles.
            Fr Gabino Areitio Berencua was a man of great love and it is because he is a man of great love that he was greatly loved by us all.
            Just a few months ago he complained of a sore ear. This grew progressively worse and he was taken to Honiton Hospital with a brief stay at the RD&E Exeter. He was not happy in hospital, they were caring and kind to him but he wanted to get back to his community in St Rita’s.
            In February 2011 he was moved to St Peter’s Nursing home, Plympton in Devon where, coincidentally, he said his first mass. His health deteriorated and towards the end he was drifting in and out of consciousness. In the early hours of Tuesday morning 5thJuly, fortified with the last rites he passed away peacefully surrounded by the Augustinian Sisters who were at his bedside praying.