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Archbishop pays tribute to 21-year-old who died of cancer

Pedro Ballester

Archbishop Arthur Roche has paid tribute to Pedro Ballester, a 21-year-old Catholic who died of cancer on January 13.

In a homily at Ballester’s funeral, Archbishop Roche said: “We pray for and pay tribute to a remarkable young man who has touched the lives of many – and most without him knowing it – through his patient, faith-filled, happy and loving endurance.”

More than 500 people attended the funeral at Manchester’s Holy Name church.

A different kind of tribute was paid shortly before Ballester’s death by Norwegian international footballer Martin Samuelsen. After scoring in a West Ham under-23s game, Samuelsen dedicated the goal to Ballester, describing him as “one of my oldest and closest friends”.

Archbishop Roche said that Ballester, a numerary member of Opus Dei, had a “deep trust in the Lord” in spite of “his considerable suffering and pain” after contracting cancer of the pelvis three years ago. Ballester faced his illness “with no fuss, humbly and with humour and an occasional tot of whiskey,” the archbishop said.

Fr Joseph Evans’ obituary described Ballester, who was raised in Manchester and Yorkshire by Spanish parents, as having “a Latin sociable character mixed with Northern grit. He was always warm and welcoming but didn’t like fuss or sentimentality.”

Fr Evans recalled that Ballester’s friends “helped him to pray the Rosary and do some mental prayer each day, though often – when the pain was more intense – Pedro’s principal prayer could be no more than offering up his suffering.” Fr Evans said those who knew Ballester often mentioned his “priestly soul”, meaning “a spiritual capacity to share the sentiments of Jesus Christ, together with a readiness to accept suffering for the salvation of souls”.

There had been a “constant flow of visitors” to pray with Ballester’s body and “an extraordinary number of messages”, Fr Evans wrote.