With shock and great sadness we inform of the death of Mons. Lucjan Avgustini, Bishop of Sapë, Albania on 22th May (Trinity Sunday). Born on 23rd August 1963 in Ferizaj, Kosovo he was the 8th of 11 children of a Catholic family. He took part in the parish activities from an early age, which planted the seeds of his vocation for priesthood. He was ordained on 15th August 1989 in Zym, Kosovo and the closeness of this place to Albania can be seen as prophetic sign of God’s providence for him.
Lucjan Avgustini followed with great attention the political changes in Albania in 1990, which brought religious after decades of persecution. Mother Teresa’s second visit to Albania in 1991, which the young priest witnessed together with his friend and later colleague Bishop Dod Gjergji, gave him the impulse to ask his Bishop Nik Prela to work in the Albanian diocese of Shkodër. In October 1994 he began his service there – first as chaplain and one year later, as parish priest of the Cathedral of St. Stephan in Shkodër.
During his time as parish priest in Shkodër – a service he carried out until 2006 – he became known for his pastoral zeal, for his fresh and vibrant preaching of the Gospel among the faithful in Shkodër which led to mutual respect and appreciation. In addition to his spiritual work he was personally involved in the reconstruction of churches, such as the Marian Shrine of Shkodër, the completion of the church tower of the Cathedral in Shkodër, as well as the construction of the new Church of Hot i Ri. At the same time he worked in the academic field as a lecturer of Sacred Scripture at the Shkodër Catechetical Institute.
During the 1997 civil war Bishop Lucjan, together with representatives of other faiths from Shkodër, made a significant contribution to reconciliation after the violent events of March 1997. He was named honorary citizen of Shkodër. In 1998 and 1999, he played a very important role in caring for the Kosovars who had fled because of the war in Kosovo.
On 12th December 2006 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Bishop of the Diocese of Sapë. In the 9 years of his episcopal ministry, Bishop Lucjan Avgustini followed the footsteps of his predecessor in numerous areas in which he harmoniously combined the spiritual-pastoral with the social dimension. He led the construction of the new Cathedral of the Diocese Sapë, consecrated to the Blessed Mother Teresa, to the end. In 2008, he was able to achieve the reconstruction of the former Episcopal Church of St. George in Nenshat, as well as to rebuild the old St. Mark’s Church in Deja.
Among the social projects he supported was the construction of the “House of Compassion” in Laç-Vaudejes, which he inaugurated in September 2012. Bishop Lucjan encouraged the Christian sense of concrete charity; he saw the care for people in need as part of priestly vocation. As president of Sapë diocesan Caritas he could carry out many social projects in the field of charity, and achieve an improvement in the living conditions that alleviated the existential poverty of many families.
In addition to his duties as Bishop of Sapë, Bishop Lucjan was also active in the Albanian Bishops’ Conference. After his appointment as bishop he became a member of this body – from 2009 to 2012 he was its secretary. From 2012 until his death he held the post of deputy chairman of the Episcopal Conference and he was head of the catechism and ecumenism, culture and society commissions.
Bishop Lucjan Avgustini has not only given the testimony of a shepherd who was marked by his love to Jesus Christ and the people entrusted to him, but he has also left something very valuable for future generations: a vivid and rich archive with many photos and films that witness the period of reconstruction of the Catholic Church after the communist period in Albani.
He came as a missionary of the risen Christ and now begins his other mission: to be a heavenly mediation with Christ our Lord, for the good of the Albanian Church and the universal Church.
May God, the Lord above life and death, take him to His peace!
In gratitude for his life and work, in deep mourning over his early death, but also in the living hope of resurrection:
The Diocese of Sapë and the Avgustini family
The funeral service followed by his burial will take place in the cathedral of the diocese of Sapë in Laç-Vaudejes on Wednesday 25 May at 10:00 am.