Fr. Giuseppe Quadrio Theology Teacher and Master of Life


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Fr. Giuseppe Quadrio

Theology Teacher and Master of Life
Translation by John Rasor of Remo Bracchi (ed.), Don Giuseppe Quadrio: Docente di Teologia e Maestro di Vita (Rome, LAS 1989), pp. 9-22. These are the proceedings of a 1989 symposium on Fr. Quadrio at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome.
Fr. Giuseppe Quadrio spent the last fourteen years of his brief and intensive life as a teacher of dogmatic theology in the Theology Department of what was then the Salesian Pontifical Athenaeum of Turin (now Salesian Pontifical University in Rome). He was also chairman of the Department (from 1954 to 1959), up to the time his illness forced his retirement.

Teaching theology was the main job given him, and he consecrated his best energies to that, with great seriousness and dedication, bringing to fruition what he had matured in the years of preparation for this task.

But more than an assignment or a duty, he always saw a privileged and unique mission. He pushed himself to make an authentic existential synthesis of study, teaching and life; of his study and his life; of theological investigation and contemporary reality; of its problems and challenges.

For the students, this was – as numerous testimonies demonstrate – the most important and eloquent lesson of Fr. Quadrio: doing theology with gaze turned with constant attention to those hearing the doctrine, to the students in front of him as well as those far off, but no less important, men of today with their conditionings and culture.

He succeeded above all in “doing theology” in the crucible of his own life. The proof came out spontaneously, day after day, from the lectern, from personal dialog with the students and the many persons he touched whether in his priestly ministry, or in particular the hospitals to which he was repeatedly admitted during his last illness. Whoever approached found him constantly serene and courageous, even in the focused consciousness of the irreversibility of his sickness and inexorable, impending death.

The contributors to this present volume1 reflect some of the major phases of his figure, in particular those that touch his mission of researcher and teacher. But they do not neglect other essential dimensions of his person and life: indeed, they put into relief that basic coherence and that irresistible efficacy which is a distinctive characteristic of all Christian holiness.
Juan Picca

Theology Department Chairman


  1. The Theologian and the Teacher

Achille M. Triacca
I will arrange my talk in three points: premises, Fr. Quadrio as a theologian and teacher, the perennial teaching of Fr. Quadrio.
    1. Premises: almost a wish to decorate a treasure

Dealing with a treasure, you proceed very carefully, and almost fearfully.

To talk about someone like Fr. Quadrio, whom I liken to a treasure, I need to begin with some premises.

      1. The title of this talk and its limits

The organizers of this workshop have asked me to deal with Fr. Quadrio as a theologian and a teacher.

I tackled this theme trying to prescind from the fact of having known him: I met him for the first time on June 6, 1957 at the Crocetta, and I was in that community with him for the three years from 1960 to 1963 during my theological studies. At the beginning of my 4th year, he who had been my confessor, friend, and counselor passed away. However, I must say I never had him as a teacher.

During this workshop other talks and contributions study different publications of Fr. Quadrio, but I will leave those aside: a) sermons, answers to questions in Meridiano 12, articles in Voci Fraterne and in the Salesian Bulletin; b) his spiritual diary, unpublished talks, correspondence; c) all his unpublished papers (sadly, so many destroyed! I remember emptying out his waste basket, with so many pages and notes...).

So, I will just fundamentally limit myself to published or printed works (see below, 2.1, for details).

      1. My limits and the the contents of this talk

Beyond the objective limits connected to my form of mind and my preparation, to be objective, I should recall again that only obliquely can I deal with him as a teacher. So, I will see what comes out of his writings on that point.

If he taught as in his sermons (of which I heard some) or in private talks, then I could say his teaching was lively and vital.

On the other hand the content of my talk, which considers Fr. Quadrio as a theologian and a teacher, limits the field of interest to that of teaching bound to theology. Let others investigate his teaching philosophy while still a seminarian, or while helping seminarians or boys here and there with their lessons.

And, in his turn, the theologian is considered in rapport with teaching. Obviously that last term is understood in the wide sense, even if again restricted to printed or lithographed scholarly papers or course supplements for theology.

Hence the limited field of this talk. Even limited as it is, it is still too vast for one talk. Consequently, I need to say something about the method.

      1. The method to follow without falsifying the data

This talk aims to make only a snapshot of the data. To make it more three-dimensional, I will follow with a starting evaluation.

This is all in a double intention to be objective, and to say something about the little to which I have arrived in my investigation. The result is only preliminary, almost a wish to – as they say - “whet the appetite”.

A true and proper research would need to widen the investigation to the library Fr. Quadrio used to compile his class notes. Then one would need to compare those with the theology manuals of that time, to see where he repeats, where he imitates, where he stands, where he innovates, where he is a precursor.

Similarly, one would need to develop the key lines of his theological thought, if they exist. In part, I would say right away they do, anticipating what I will say in the third part.

Anyway, there is no one who cannot see that a research could be projected that would reveal three areas of Fr. Quadrio as theologian and teacher:

- his theological formation and later scholarly production;

- his method or methodology for transmitting its content;

- the spirituality of a theologian and teacher.

I will only make here brief reference to these.

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