1974 (Volta Redonda, Brazil) – 2009 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
When you think of a saint, what kind of person comes to mind? A priest like St. Ignatius, a nun like St. Terese, someone who does great heroic deeds like St. George, or someone who helps the poor like St. Elizabeth? How about a surfer? Do you think a surfer could be a saint? That’s right, they certainly could! We can all become saints, and the Servant of God, Guido Schäffer, who was a great surfer, is an excellent example for us all.
Guido was born just over forty years ago in a rich family in Brazil. His dad was a doctor and Guido too became one when he finished his studies at university. Guido also had many friends and loved sports. Surfing was his passion also because it made him feel close to nature, in which he saw the beauty of God’s work. When Guido was preparing to get married, he one day understood that Jesus was calling him to become a priest instead. With great joy, Guido gave up all the great things that he already had in his life and started to study to become a priest.
Guido also knew that being a doctor was a gift, and like every gift, it too had to be passed on to others. He therefore started helping the Missionaries of Charity, the nuns who follow the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, to look after the homeless and the poor in their Holy House of Mercy. But Guido knew that he always had to look for Jesus in others, not only when he was at work as a doctor.
One day, as he was leaving the Holy House at night, exhausted from a day’s work there, he saw a homeless man whose head had a deep cut. There were even worms in it, because no one looked after him and the wound got infected. Guido immediately went to this man, cleaned out his wound and removed the worms from it one by one. While he did this, he spoke to him about Jesus. In the end the homeless man thanked Guido and said: “Now I know Jesus. Many have spoken to me about him, but, because of what you did for me, I now know him.” Why do you think the homeless man said that? Exactly! Because Guido not only spoke about Jesus but was like Jesus for him.
On another occasion, during a mass in the center of the city that was attended by a large crowd, the angry shouts of a beggar could be heard from the street. Guido went to see what was going on and noticed that the people around the beggar were being very harsh with him, telling him to shut up and clear off. Guido recognized the man – it was one of his patients from the Holy House of Mercy. He went straight up to him and gave him a big hug. The man was stunned, stopped shouting and calmed down. He did not expect such kindness, and the people around him were amazed too by Guido’s act of love.
Guido also had a great gift for speaking about Jesus in a very clear and vivid way and many wanted to hear him preach at mass. All this time though, Guido. whom many called the “Surfer Angel”, continued to go surfing on the beaches around Rio de Janeiro, until the accident during which he died just weeks before being made a priest.
Guido is a great example for us of living life to the full and of listening to what God is asking us to do. He loved Jesus in the poor, whom he helped as a doctor and whom he would have also helped as a priest, and he loved God also when he enjoyed the beauty of nature while surfing.
“Love is to live this life intensely with eyes fixed on Jesus. Love is to search for God in all moments of our existence.”