Antonio José Molina Molina died in Murcia, Spain on the 11th May 2015. He was a member of the Fundación Sur Community in Madrid. On the 25th April, he had celebrated 60 years of priestly ordination in the parish of Nuestra Señora de la Estrella in Madrid surrounded by the love and affection of the Parish Priest and the parishioners. On the 8th May, he left for Murcia to celebrate the same event with members of his family and friends. However, the Lord decided that the celebration take place in heaven. The Funeral Mass took place on the 12th May in the parish of Notre Dame du Carmel in Murcia in a church filled with members of his family, friends, parishioners and White Father confreres from Madrid and Roquetas de Mar (Almeria).
Antonio had taken his Missionary Oath in Thibar on the 27th June 1954 and he had been ordained priest in Carthage on Easter Sunday, 10th April 1955. He had the joy of having his parents present at the ceremony.
Sixty years later, when celebrating his jubilee, Antonio told us, “With 60 years behind me, I look in the rear-view mirror of my missionary life and I see myself as among the advance guard of the White Fathers.” In fact, after a course in Portuguese in Lisbon, he arrived in Mozambique in August 1956. His first appointment was to Murraça where he studied Ki-sena for four months. In January 1957, he was part of the first team to found Charre Parish. In March 1958, he was appointed to the seminary at Zóbue.
In September 1958, he returned to Madrid to take up an appointment as director of the ‘Padres Blancos’ magazine which later became known as the ‘Africana’ magazine. He was also entrusted with missionary promotion work.
In October 1961, Antonio received an appointment to Mozambique. At that time, it was difficult to get en entry visa for the colony. While he was waiting, he continued studying Portuguese and helped in neighbouring parishes. Eventually, in August 1962, he left by boat for Africa accompanied by Fr. Vicente Sotillo. He stayed at Bàrue for some months before being appointed to the Seminary at Zóbue as teacher and bursar. He remained there until July 1967, when the seminary was handed over to Portuguese Jesuits.
Antonio did the Long Retreat at Villa Cavalletti near Rome in September 1967. On the advice of the Regional of Mozambique, he went to Bruxelles to study Catechetics and Pastoral Work at the ‘Lumen Vitae’ Institute in view of an appointment to the new Nazaré Training Centre near Beira. He worked there as professor and bursar with a group of 30 families of catechists until May 1971, when the White Fathers were expelled from the country by the Portuguese government.
In order to “digest” so many emotions, Antonio asked the Superior General to return to Louvain to finish his Licentiate in Pastoral Work and Catechetics at ‘Lumen Vitae.’ The upshot was a proposal that he go to Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) as Director of the Catechists Training Centre at Tionkuy in the Diocese of Dedugú. He studied Bambara at the Language Centre of Falajè in Mali before returning to Tionkuy in 1973 to take up his new post.
When Mozambique got its independence in 1975, the Superior General invited the former missionaries of the country to be on the standby to return. Antonio was ready to go and with this expectation in mind, he returned to Madrid. However, FRELIMO (the National Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) while acknowledging the work done by the White Fathers, did not want them around the people.
In 1976, The Superior General, Fr. Jean Marie Vasseur, asked Fr. Molina to take on the job of Provincial Treasurer on a temporary basis after the incumbent left the post. This temporary job was to last all of two mandates during the Provincial leadership of Fr. Barto Burgos (1976-1982). In September 1982, the two left together to do the Session/Retreat in Jerusalem.
In January 1983, Antonio set out again for Burkina Faso. However, this time, he went by car, a Renault 4 to be exact, and began work as curate and bursar, eventually as Parish Priest and Superior in the mission of Tougan. He was appointed Latin teacher in the Junior Seminary of Tionkuy in September 1988. In June 1991, a proposal was put to him to go to Brazil for Missionary Promotion work and to complete the team already in Curitiba. Antonio confessed, “It was the easiest order under my oath of obedience.” In fact, he “always dreamed of getting to know the pioneering Churches since Vatican II and he could never imagine being able to realise it.” It was eight intense years, especially the last five when he was the delegate of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Paranà State to the Regional Conference of Bishops comprising 4 Archbishops and 17 Bishops. It was during these five years that three Brazilian priests left for the north of Mazambique as ‘Fidei Donum’ priests.
Antonio returned to Spain in August 1999. Not for long, a proposal was made to him to go to Belgium as Secretary General of the international magazine ‘Vivant Univers’ which was the responsibility of the Belgian Province of the White Fathers. He remained in charge until the review passed into the hands of lay people. In between times, he did 60+ session in Rome in the year 2000.
At the end of 2002, Fr. Antonio returned to Spain for good. At that moment, he wrote, “Lord, help me to grown old. Give me the grace to be helpful in my community and in the world around me. Let me help with my prayer and optimism the reign of harmony and peace.”
During these 13 last years of his life, Fr. Antonio collaborated with Africa-Fundació Sur in producing weekly radio programmes called ‘La Otra Cara de Africa’ (The other side of Africa) which told what the media did not say about Africa namely good news stories. In addition, he was the editor of Africana, as well as corrector and proofreader of the original texts. For 12 years, he celebrated the 11 o’clock Mass in the Parish of the Nuestra Señora de la Estrella, Madrid.
Antonio testified, “Everywhere, in Africa as in Europe or in America, I felt I was a missionary in the style of the White Fathers. I thank God because Jesus made us pastors, and because in his own way, our founder, Cardinal Lavigerie had some of the charisms of Pope Francis.