BROTHER (APRIL 2, 1993)
HE WAS LIKE THE GOOD SAMARITAN OF JESUS’ STORY
Simone Srugi was born in Nazareth on June 27, 1877, the last of ten children. When he was but 3 years old he lost both parents over the space of a few months and was left in the care of his grandmother. In 1888 he went to the Catholic orphanage in Bethlehem, under the leadership of Fr. Belloni. This priest who was akin to Don Bosco, became a Salesian in 1891 on the Pope’s advice, and entrusted his work to the Congregation. Simon liked it so much there that when he was 16, he asked to become a Salesian.
He was sent to the Oratory- Agricultural school at Beit Gemàl, where he finished his studies and made his novitiate becoming a Salesian Brother. He spent his entire life there, working tirelessly for 50 years. He carried out so much activity and with so much love! He was a teacher in school for many little Muslims who called him “Mu’allem Srugi,” and said, “He is as good as a cupful of honey.”
He looked after the mill and farmers from all around brought their grain for him to mill — he did it all fairly and calmly. He was an infirmarian. There was no doctor in the area and the sick came to him from the 50 villages around, most of them poor people. He was like the Good Samaritan of Jesus’ story: he took pity on the unfortunate, cleaned them up, looked after them, treated them gently, telling them about Jesus and Mary. Sick people said of him, “Other doctors do not have the blessed hands of Brother Srugi. His hands have power and Allah’s kindness.”
He was so gentle and kind that local Muslims used to say, “after Allah there was Srugi.” Don Bosco wanted his Brothers to be with the people and bring the Gospel to them through deeds and prayer. Often people would come just so he could lay hands on them. Mothers gave him their children to bless. When there was a dispute in the village they would come to him and he would referee and work for peace.
They all felt that Srugi was in serious communication with God. He found his nourishment in the Eucharist and the Gospel. He spent his free time before the Blessed Sacrament. In 1908 when Don Rua visited the house at Beit Gemàl, he said, “Follow him up well, record his words and deeds, because we are dealing here with a saint.”
He died from all his work and from malaria on November 27, 1943 at 66 years of age. His funeral was a virtual apotheosis. His humble body was laid to rest at Beitgemal near the glorious tomb of St. Stephen. On April 2, 1993 he was declared Venerable.