AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - Father Norberto, a Carmelite missionary injured by a mine, had already escaped three road ambushes

Thursday, 23 March 2023 missionaries   violence  

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - Father Norberto Pozzi, born in 1952, Discalced Carmelite missionary from Lecco, injured in the north-west of Central Africa by a landmine on February 10 (see Fides, 13/2/2023), was the victim of road ambushes by bandits three times. This was reported to Fides by Father Federico Trinchero, confrere of the injured missionary, who works in the Carmel of Bangui.
"In the first ambush, the bullets lodged in the headrest of the seat, in another the bullets reached the gearbox and, in yet another, he was robbed and risked being kidnapped", says Father Frederico. This time it was a land mine that struck. As Father Federico indicates, in 2022, 19 people, mainly children, were killed in Central Africa because of mines.
"Like almost every weekend, on the afternoon of February 10, Father Norberto left the Bozoum mission to go to one of the twenty-five villages he has been following, for many years to celebrate the Eucharist", continues Father Federico. "The destination is Bokpayan, 55 km from Bozoum, where he plans to stay for a few days. Father Norberto is accompanied by Father Igor and four workers because there is a school to be repaired. After crossing a small wooden bridge, and before crossing a second one, the car driven by Father Norberto suddenly hits a mine. The workers, seated in the back, are thrown into the air and the car, completely destroyed at the front, crashes, immobilized in the ditch by the side of the road". Father Norberto's condition seemed serious. He was rescued by two young men on a motorbike and transported to the hospital in Bozoum, 22 km away. He then had to wait overnight to be transported by a helicopter from the United Nations Mission in Central Africa to the United Nations hospital in Bangui, then transferred to Entebbe, Uganda, where he was admitted to intensive care at the Nakasero Hospital in Kampala. There, unfortunately, the doctors were forced to amputate his left foot. He was transferred to Bologna (see Fides, 24/2/2023).
Father Norberto was almost thirty years old when, almost by chance, he was informed that the Discalced Carmelite Friars were looking for a volunteer to work in their mission in Central Africa. Norberto, who had just left his fiancée, also quit his job and in 1980 he arrived in Bozoum. He begins to build churches, schools, dispensaries and a seminary. After eight years, he decided to enter the Carmelite Order. He then went to Italy for his novitiate and his theological studies. Ordained a priest in 1995, Father Norberto returned to Central Africa, devoting himself above all to the evangelization of villages in the savannah, schools and the sick, announcing the Gospel in the churches he had built as a young layman. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 23/3/2023)