Every beginning has an end. Last week, Father Felipe Sainz de Baranda passed away in his homeland Spain. He was 87 years old. For
twelve years Father Felipe was General Superior of the Discalced Carmelite Fathers. He will be lengthily remembered for his missionary thrust.
He was the one who encouraged the Maltese fathers to start a mission in Taiwan in the nineties; Fathers Henry, Alfred and Augustine took up the call of Father General and went to Taiwan to start the mission there. Today this mission is thriving with local vocations. He visited Malta only once but his vibrant vision of the future and his effervescent enthusiasm are still fondly remembered.
Born in 1930, Father Felipe took the Carmelite habit in 1945 and was ordained a priest in 1953 at the Order’s International College in Rome. He specialised in Sacred Scripture and was designated Professor of Scripture and patristic studies in the Theological College in Burgos.Spain. In 1979 he was elected General of the Order. During his twelve years as General, he emphasised the missionary dimension of the Order, above all in Africa. It was during his Generalate, that the Constitutions of the Order were definitely approved following the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council.
It was also during his time that the turmoil surrounding the Discalced Carmelite nuns transpired. This was his heaviest cross. When he finished his twelve-year term as General, he asked to go as a missionary in Paraguay and successively in Uruguay. Towards the end of 2015, he returned to Burgos Spain.
Speaking at the funeral mass, the present Father General, Father Saverio Cannistra remarked: “I can say that his presence, right up to the present day, has left an indelible imprint on the government and life of the Order…. You have left us an enormous legacy: you have given us a true love of our family and of the whole Church. Thank you, Felipe! We will never forget you!”