Josef Mayr-Nusser obeyed the first commandment to the end: "...thou shalt not have strange Gods before me."
Josef Mayr-Nusser, an Italian layman remembered as a conscientious objector during WWII, will be beatified today, March 18, 2017, in Bolzano, Italy. I first bumped into him as I was paging through the lives of those I call Catholic Hall of Famers (i.e., canonized saints and those on the way to canonization). He caught my eye because he was a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, as I am. (The founder of the Society — not Vincent de Paul, as you might think — is another one of my saint-friends, as I wrote here).
Josef being part of the Society means he and I had something in common beyond just being Catholic. Although separated by time, we had both found ourselves in the same ministry.
There is, however, a glaring difference in our life stories: He died at the hands of the Nazis in 1945 and has been declared a martyr. So in comparing our lives, I was way out of my league. But the connection was still there. I could actually relate to the realities that were part of his life pre-Nazism.