Plans afoot to bring Father Beltrame home

PLANS IN PLACE: Bruno Guidolin, Father Andrew Grace and Father Beltrame's brother Tiziano Beltrame discuss bringing Father Beltrame back to Griffith. Picture: Tanya Pattison.

PLANS IN PLACE: Bruno Guidolin, Father Andrew Grace and Father Beltrame's brother Tiziano Beltrame discuss bringing Father Beltrame back to Griffith. Picture: Tanya Pattison.

AFTER spending the past 10 months in respite in a Sydney nursing home, plans are being put in place to bring much-loved Catholic priest Father Rafe Beltrame back to Griffith.

He is currently living at Scalabrini Austral, has dementia and is almost completely wheelchair bound.

The community is divided over what is best for Father Beltrame, with the Bring Father Beltrame Back to Griffith Facebook page set up last week.

The page has received close to 600 likes, with plenty of comments made for and against bringing him home.

However, long-time friend Bruno Guidolin has assured all that Father Beltrame was not taken to Sydney against his will as some believe.

A meeting held last Sunday between his younger brother Tiziano Beltrame, Mr Guidolin, parish priest Father Andrew Grace and Bishop Hanna, means he may soon be headed home to see out his final years at Griffith's Scalabrini Village.

"We discussed when he can come back to Griffith and it has been decided that as soon as his doctors give him the all clear and there is a suitable bed he will come home," Mr Guidolin said.

"We believe it will be soon.

"In the past two-and-a-half years I have kept in close contact with Tiziano to keep him informed about how is brother was going.

"Tiziano and I have been out to Scalabrini Village this week and we will travel to Sydney this weekend before he goes back to Italy.

"He is very happy he came and has been overwhelmed by the reception he received wherever he went."

Mr Guidolin said unfortunately there had been a lot of misunderstanding about what was happening to Father Beltrame.

He said few people realised the decline in his health in the past 12 months.

"Myself and Deanna Dissenga took him to Calvary in Wagga last November for urgent medical treatment on his legs because he was suffering from problems associated with chronic urinary failure due to his prostate," he said.

"They had hoped to do a knee reconstruction but doctors weighed up the pros and cons and sadly, considering his age and dementia, they decided against operating.

"While he was in Calvary his dementia got worse so they sent him to Scalabrini Austral, which he was happy about at the time.

"I wrote Tiziano a two-page letter telling him exactly what his medical report said and I suggested he come and see him.

"I was going on a trip around the world and got a seat next to me on the plane to Australia.

"He came here to celebrate his brother's 60th anniversary and to see for himself.

"Number one has always been what's best for Father Beltrame.

"He sat down with his brother and has signed a letter declaring that he understands that when he comes back to Griffith he won't be driving and he will live at Scalabrini.

"When he does come back locals will find he won't remember them because of his dementia."

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