AFRICA/NIGER - Pierluigi Maccalli "untaani": the man who creates unity in the name of God

Saturday, 18 May 2019 kidnappings   missionaries   missionary institutes   terrorism  


Bomoanga (Agenzia Fides) - "In the entire region of Tillaberi, it is no longer possible to travel by motorbike due to a ministerial decree that clearly states that terrorists arrive by motorbike and therefore it is better to leave this means of transport until the danger of attacks has not ceased", says to Agenzia Fides father Vito Girotto of the Society for African Missions (SMA), a confrere of father Pierluigi Maccalli.
"However - continues the missionary - activities in the mission in Bomoanga continue, Sunday Mass is celebrated by Father Dass Arokya, Indian SMA priest, collaborator of Fr. Gigi and who powerlessly witnessed his kidnapping in the mission in Bomoanga".
Assistance to malnourished children and the sick is ensured by two valid collaborators of Pierluigi and also the purchase and distribution of medicines is still well organized. Among the difficulties that Father Vito highlights is the closure of the N'Gula Catholic primary school, in the mission of Bomoanga, even before the school year began, 2018-2019. Furthermore "pastoral visits to the villages of Bomoanga are no longer possible for priests, due to insecurity, but it is the catechists who animate the Sunday prayer. Once a month they distribute the Eucharistic bread".
"Insecurity seems to be increasing in Niger where some days ago bandits attacked the Catholic mission of Dolbel, wounding parish priest Fr. Nicaise and stole what was possible (see Fides, 14/5/2019). This mission is on the border with Mali, 400 km from Bomoanga, but the attacks also come from neighboring Burkina Faso, where Christians are paying their lives with their faith. In two days 10 Catholics were killed in Burkina, including a Burkinabe priest during Sunday Mass (see Fides, 13/5/2019).
The missionary notes: "In Niger as well as in Burkina we do not respond with violence to these acts of terror but with the search for justice in dialogue and forgiveness". And he points out that "no priest who exercises his ministry in Niger has left his mission out of fear. I was forced to leave Makalondi the night of 17 September 2018, but with my heart I am always with my people and with friends from Bomoanga. We continue to pray and hope, despite everything, in a prompt release of Fr. Gigi that we entrust to the Lord through our Virgin. Fr. Gigi, in the little photo in memory of his 25th anniversary of his priesthood, had written in the local language: Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli "untaani", which means "the man who creates unity in the name of God". With prayer we are united and we do not want to forget the other Nigerian hostages, especially women and children, of whom we have no news for months". (VG/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 18/5/2019)