The missionary has been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Father Pedro Opeka, 70, is “God’s bricklayer.” Born in Argentina to Slovenian migrants, he learned the bricklaying trade with his father, who earned his bread by working on construction sites, building houses. Now, he does it for and with the poor. “When we open ourselves to God’s grace, the impossible becomes a reality,” he said, paraphrasing Pope Francis (April 27, 2018).
Father Pedro Opeka has been in Madagascar for 48 years. He has spent 43 years of priesthood in the community of St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660), the saint of charity. “Our main goal is to evangelize and help the poor,” he explains.
He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times.
“I wanted to go to Madagascar before becoming anyone important, before becoming a priest. I asked for permission. I said, ‘I am the son of a bricklayer, a builder. I want to work with my hands. I want to get to the country before becoming someone.’ Because when you arrive in a country as a priest, they put you behind an altar and tell you: ‘You are over here, we are over there.’ No, no, I came as a young man. And the first friends that I made were through sports, soccer. And that’s what I continue to do,” he explained to Aleteia.
The evangelization of Father Opeka moves like a soccer ball in the field of life. He provokes mixed reactions among his adversaries, but they still respect him. On his side, he has the team of humble people, all ready to give their lives for him and protect “God’s 10” in the game which he organized to build a community.
Even at his age, he still enjoys soccer: “I had several free kicks, about ten, and I made five goals, from right and left, into the corner, from 45 meters away. The kids shouted with joy: ‘Goal!!!’ And I raised my hands to heaven and said inside myself: ‘Lord, thank you, thank you for giving me this opportunity, this strength, that at my age I can make good kicks to give joy. Thank you, my Lord!!!'”