Bernhard Girardi hat Sister Lucy von Beginn an unterstützt, ihre Vision umzusetzen. Er hat sie motiviert, ihr den Rücken gestärkt und jahrelang für finanzielle Untersützung aus Österreich gesorgt. Im April 2018 ist der Maher-Großvater gestorben.
Sister Lucy drückt ihre Liebe und Dankbarkeit zu ihm in einem Nachruf aus:
„Hier sitze ich und versuche, ein paar Zeilen zu schreiben, jedoch mein Geist ist verwirrt und mein Herz schwer von Schmerz und Trauer.
Ihr alle wisst sehr gut, dass Euer Gatte und Vater eine tiefe Verbindung mit Maher pflegte. Aber ich schreibe dies, weil ich möchte, dass Ihr wisst, wie dankbar ich ihm und auch Dir, Gusti bin.
Wenn wir heute eine Heimat, genannt Maher, haben in dieser Welt, dann verdanken wir das zu einem großen Teil Bernhard, der uns mit all seiner Liebe und seiner Ermutigung für diese Idee überschüttet hat. Er stand auf meiner Seite, als nur wenige den Mut zur Hilfe hatten. In 1993 war Maher nur ein Traum. Aber als Bernhard mich in den frühen Neunziger Jahren besuchte und mir sagte, ich solle weitermachen, begann der Traum Gestalt anzunehmen. Während ich einige Zeit brauchte um Vertrauen zu fassen und seine Hilfe anzunehmen, war Bernhard seit dieser Zeit ein liebevoller Bruder, ein fürsorglicher Freund und einzigartiger Wohltäter. Manchmal war er besorgt und sogar verärgert über Mahers starkes Wachstum. Es war nicht ungewöhnlich, dass er mit mir schimpfte und aufgebacht war. Aber schließlich zeigte er beispielhaftes Verständnis und den aufrichtigen Wunsch, mir bei meinen Ideen zu helfen. Mir fehlen einfach die Worte, mich dafür bei Bernhard zu bedanken.
Gusti, Du hast einen liebenden Gatten verloren. Bernhard und Roland, Ihr habt einen liebenden Vater verloren. Auch Eure Kinder werden ihn sicherlich vermissen. Wahrscheinlich so wie sie, hat auch Maher eine wesentliche Unterstützung in Form eines liebevollen Großvaters verloren. Ich weiß jedoch, dass er uns allen im Geiste ganz nahe ist. Wir werden ihn für viele Jahre in unseren Herzen bewahren. Sein Vermächtnis ist für immer in jedem Herz der Maher Familie verwahrt.
In allen unseren Häusern haben wir seiner im Gebet gedacht. In unserer Zentrale in Vadu hielten wir eine besondere Andacht und haben auch eine Kokosnusspalme in seinem Namen gepflanzt.
Danke Bernhard für alles, was Du für Maher gewesen bist.
Auch Pater Francis D’Sa, ein weiterer wichtiger Maher-Unterstützer, denkt mit folgendem Nachruf mit voller Liebe an Bernhard Girardi zurück:
„Some weeks back Sr. Lucy rang me up saying that Bernard Girardi’s niece from Eugendorf, Austria, had telephoned saying that her maternal uncle Bernard (67) had died in his sleep. This was shocking news for me because of the significance of this man in the history of Maher’s beginning in Austria.
Here’s a brief sketch of the early happenings.
The University of Salzburg, Austria invited me as Guest Professor to lecture on Cross-Cultural Theology for a semester in the spring of 1993.
Hardly had I begun the lectures I was laid low by a heart attack. This was surprising because the workload was far from heavy, the surroundings breath-taking and the people friendly. I was staying with the Sacred Heart Fathers in Liefering on the outskirts of Salzburg. I can never forget their uncommon friendliness; they treated me with great affection. They have remained life-long friends.
The heart attack was really the beginning of the Maher-movement, as I shall presently explain. After the stay in the intensive care station and then the hospital where I received really good care (in spite of dire warnings of what to expect) I was taken to the Rehabilitationszentrum in Grossgemein, outside of Salzburg for four weeks. There we could receive guests in the afternoons.
Among the guests that I welcomed was a former fellow student at the University of Innsbruck where I had studied theology for four years (1964-68). We met after 35 years; he had become a famous jurist. He had brought along with him a friend, who was not known to me. This turned out to be Bernard Girardi. My jurist friend and I exchanged a lot of news items. Then he wanted to know among other things what our latest plans in India were. Till then my Germans friends and I were taking young Indians for specialized training to Austria, Italy, etc. but that was not a successful idea. Just at that point of time, Sr. Noelline (with whom I had started a project for women in the environs of De Nobili College a couple of years before) had herself begun along with a young fellow sister, Sr. Lucy, work for women in distress. They had hired a room or two to shield women who were going through difficulties with their husbands, etc. They had spoken with me of starting something permanent for such women but away from the town because of their husbands creating a lot of trouble for the women and for the Sisters who were looking after them. It is this idea that I put before the two visiting gentlemen, least thinking that the guest who was listening would be enthused by it.
To my great surprise he turned up to see me the following afternoon bringing with him his wife and two grown-up sons. When introducing them to me he explained to me that they were a semi-professional musical family, playing on different occasions for different groups. The sons were accomplished violin players and the parents could handle a variety of instruments. Bernard Girardi himself was a teacher by profession and a hobby artist. After this introduction, he asked me to present to his wife and sons the idea of the project of helping women in distress as I had done the previous day. Of course, the project was only in spe. I did this briefly. Hardly had I finished, the two young men said enthusiastically that they would organize a music festival in their village Eugendorf for this project. These were not empty words. They were true to their word. Within two months this was the first event for Maher in late summer 1993.
But it didn’t stop with that. Bernard went to his Parish Priest and his councilors in Eugendorf and convinced them that they should visit me in Pune and study the project in spe and, if possible, support it. The Parish Priest knew me because I had helped out in his parish. He brought his councilors along with him to Pune. I had invited Sr. Noelline and Sr. Lucy to the meeting, which was conducted in German since our Austrian guests didn’t know English.
The two sisters explained that the first thing that was needed was a house for the women. I explained to our Austrian visitors that Sr. Noelline would not be in a position to take over this project because the house needed to be outside of Pune so that the husbands of the women wanting to create problems for the women and the Sisters would not find it easy of approach. Besides all this, searching for a new place out in the villages is a thing that would be impossible for Sr. Noelline. They understood and agreed.
On their part they went a step further and promised that they would try to get the political community of Eugendorf to be part of this enterprise and, if I am not mistaken, this became a reality for some time. In all this Bernard Girardi was the one in the background who put the bits and pieces together. Once when I was in Eugendorf he took me to the home for the aged to show me some of his paintings, which he had sold in order to donate the proceeds to Maher. Whatever Bernard could do to earn money for Maher he didn’t hesitate to do. For Bernard, Maher was not a one-time affair but a life-long attachment to Pune, India.
On a personal note, I have experienced the hospitality of the Girardi Family and their commitment to Maher beyond the call of duty.
Exactly a year ago when I gave a series of talks to about twenty women and men in the Salzburg Alps (Maria Kirchental) Bernard and his wife Gusti (in a wheelchair) came to visit me. That was the last time we met. I shall always remember him with gratitude for his services to Maher. My friendship with him was something special!
Francis X. D’Sa, Pune
1st May 2018″