The Pope receives Father Maccalli: a father’s embrace for a missionary from the suburbs

The emotion marks the voice of Father Pierluigi Maccalli at the end of today’s audience with Pope Francis who prayed for him for a long time together with the whole Church. They meet and tell each other a month after the missionary’s release in Mali: there is gratitude and disbelief in the face of the Vicar of Christ who bends down to kiss the hands of the priest

Benedetta Capelli and Gabriella Ceraso – Vatican City

After the embrace with the Pope, there are no words except “thank you”. Father Pierluigi Maccalli, missionary of the Society of African Missions, originally from Madignano, in the province of Cremona, released last October 8 after two years of imprisonment between Niger and Mali, retraces with Francis what he lived and entrusts to him his Africa, which has remained without a missionary guide. There is disbelief and the difficulty in expressing the gift of love received from the Pope, him a missionary from the periphery that the whole Church has carried in his heart, also thanks to the solicitation of the Pope:

Listen to the interview with Father Maccalli

R. – It was a very, very nice meeting. I was moved, above all by telling the Pope what I lived and then entrusting to his prayer, especially the communities to which I went and which have now been without a missionary presence and a priest for more than 2 years. I told the Pope to bring the Church of Niger with him in prayer. The Pope was very attentive, he listened to me very carefully. I also said a big “thank you” for having prayed for me, together with the Church, and then at the Angelus of the World Mission Day when he wanted this applause from the square for my release. I thanked him and he replied: “We supported you but you supported the Church”. I had no words in the face of this: I, a little missionary, and he who told me so … I really have no words.

What did receiving this caress from Pope Francis mean for you and for your history as a missionary marked, precisely, by this long rapture?

R. – It was the embrace of a father, this father that I carry in prayer every day. Here, finding him in front of me was truly an emotion and a feeling of great gratitude. I never thought that a missionary who goes to the peripheries of the world could one day find himself in front of the Pope himself, who supports the universal Church. These are difficult emotions to express… I kept saying, thank you, thank you, thank you.

A moment of the Pope's audience with Father Maccalli




A moment of the Pope’s audience with Father Maccalli

Is there a particular word that the Pope gave you and that you will also keep in your heart for the future?

R. – More than a word, a gesture. When we said goodbye, I shook his hand and he kissed my hands. I didn’t expect it ….

In the homily he gave yesterday in Rome. She said: I prayed with tears and the desert was an experience of essentiality. How much have these two years affected your faith?

R. – Tears have been my bread for many days and have been my prayer when I didn’t know what to say. I even wrote it down one day. I read in some rabbinic tale that God counts the number of women’s tears and I said to him: “Lord, who knows what men’s tears also count. I offer them to you in prayer to water that arid land of the mission but also the arid land of hearts that feel hate causing war and violence “. And then we go to the essentials in the desert. There you realize that it is essential to have water to drink, to have something to eat, even if it is the same food every day, onions and lentils and sardines. But you see that it is not the refined dishes that make the substance. So it is also in the spiritual life: what is worth is shalom, forgiveness and brotherhood, and as a missionary I feel even more urged to be a witness of peace, brotherhood and forgiveness, today and always.

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World Mission Day: “Called to paddle together”

For World Mission Day this Sunday, October 18, the Pope wrote the message “Here I am, send me” in which he recalls: “We were surprised by an unexpected storm and we realized that we were in the same boat, as fragile and disoriented people but also important and necessary. We are all called to row together ”.

Manoel Tavares – Vatican News

Next Sunday (10/18), the Church celebrates the World Mission Day, which this year has as its theme: “I’m here, send me”. This day, celebrated on the third Sunday in October, the month of the Missions, was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926: a day of prayer for the evangelization of peoples, whose objective is to encourage missionary cooperation in the world and the contribution of missionaries. The ecclesial event is celebrated annually in all countries, where Catholics are committed to evangelization and to the construction of a more just, dignified and peaceful world. Missionary cooperation occurs with prayer, sacrifice and witness of life, as well as with material help for missionary projects.

Message of the Pope

On this third Sunday in October 2020, World Mission Day, the Church invites us to reflect on the theme, chosen by Pope Francis: “Here I am, send me”, extracted from the book of the prophet Isaiah (6, 8) . In his Message for this occasion, Francis highlights “the tribulations and challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”, proposing to the Church special attention to this event that challenges all of humanity.

Fragility and deliverance from evil

The Pontiff notes that, like the disciples of the Gospel, “we were surprised by an unexpected and furious storm” and “we realize that we are in the same boat, as fragile and disoriented but also important and necessary people”: “We are all called to row together ”. Although we are “frightened, disoriented and fearful”, says the Pope, “suffering and death make us realize our human fragility”; but, at the same time, “we all feel a strong desire for life and freedom from evil”. In this context, the Mission is an invitation “to go out of oneself, for the love of God and neighbor, to share and serve all who most need the Good News and salvation”.

Beware of Creation

Pope Francis urges us to understand that “God speaks to us in these pandemic times, which is also a challenge for the Church’s mission: sickness, tribulation, fear, isolation; such a challenge makes us think of the sadness of those who die alone, of those who feel abandoned, of those who lose their jobs, of those who have no roof, of those who are hungry and needy ”. Finally, the Holy Father recalls that, “although we are obliged to keep physical distance and remain at home, we are invited to rediscover the need for greater contact with God”. In this context, “prayer, with which God touches and moves our hearts, makes us understand our lack of love, dignity and freedom, as well as care for creation”.

Church Statistics

On the occasion of the 94th World Mission Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday, October 18, Fide Agencys presents, as usual, some statistics chosen to offer a panoramic view of the Church in the world. The data from the last “Statistical Yearbook of the Church” (31.12.18) concern members of the Church, pastoral structures, activities in the field of health, social assistance and education, and present a general picture of the ecclesiastical circumscriptions entrusted to the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples. According to the latest statistics, therefore, the world population was almost 7 and a half billion people, of which almost 1 and a half million Catholics.

According to statistics, it can be seen that the number of Lay Missionaries in the world is 376,188, with an increase in all the Continents. While catechists have declined on 3 continents and have increased in Africa and Asia in any case they reach more than 3 million. The ecclesiastical circumscriptions, which depend on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, are almost twelve hundred. Most are in Africa and Asia, followed by the Americas and Oceania.

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“Resisting to exist”: Father Maccalli tells of his long imprisonment

“The future will be as God wills”: he looks at what he has lived and less at what awaits him, the missionary, originally from the province of Crema, released on 8 October last after the imprisonment that began in 2018 at the hands of jihadists between Niger and Mali. He does so in an interview with the Fides agency in which he also mentions Vatican Radio and the possibility, through its frequencies, of listening to the voice of the Pope “breath of fresh air” in the darkness of imprisonment

Gabriella Ceraso – Vatican City

Silence, mission, death, prayer: it is a flood, exciting, Father Pierluigi Maccalli in the interview – the first after his release on 8 October last – granted to the Fides agency. The 59-year-old missionary of the African Mission Society, kidnapped in September two years ago in Niger, is now in his home in Madignano in the province of Crema, among family members, citizens and confreres who, with the power of prayer, they supported from a distance and today they are confirmation for him that “the Mission is in God’s hands, it is Missio Dei”.

The testimony that emerges is that of a missionary totally entrusted to the hands of the Father, who has prayed and continues to pray for his jailers and who still needs time to understand what this affair will mean for his life “.” Taken away in slippers and pajamas “,” considered a ‘kafir’, impure, and condemned to hell “, the missionary sums up the time of imprisonment in two verbs:” resist to exist “.” My only support was prayer simple morning and evening that I learned in the family from my mother and grandmother’s rosary as a contemplative prayer “. A long period of” silence, purification, a return to the origins and to the essential “and many questions:” I shouted as outburst and lament to God: where are you? why have you forsaken me? Until when Lord? I knew and I know that He is there! But I know that God can be seen from behind, now that I am free, back home I am beginning to understand “.

“My only support was the simple morning and evening prayer”

From Vatican Radio the Pope’s voice: a breath of fresh air

Two long years in which there was no lack of what Father Gigi defines as “gifts”, “breaths of the Holy Spirit”. Like the one that arrived on the day of Pentecost 2020. From May 20, when he got hold of a radio, he says, “I was able to listen to the commentary on the Sunday Gospel from Vatican Radio every Saturday. Once even the live Mass … was precisely the mass of Pentecost 2020 “. The moment is special, the Pope’s homily is “a breath of fresh air”. “That morning – he says – to my great surprise I listen to Pope Francis in Italian, I close my ear and tune the radio better and I find myself at the beginning of the Pentecost mass in communion with the Pope, the church and the world. I tell myself” today I am in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and at the same time on a mission in Africa. I listen with some emotion to the readings and the Gospel that remind me of the motto of my priestly ordination, the passage from the Gospel of John (Jn 20): ‘As the father has gone I also send you. Receive the Holy Spirit’ “.

“Mission is not just ‘doing’, but silence and fundamentally it is Missio Dei”

Missionary from the bottom of my heart

For two years, therefore, prayer never ceased in the hands, on the lips, in the heart of Father Gigi, even in the absence of the Eucharist, and this was his salvation. “Every day and especially every Sunday I said the consecrating words’ this is my body offered, ‘bread broken for the world and Africa. In the morning prayer I prayed a French hymn … and ended by adding -‘ I have no other offer than the offering of my life ‘. Every Sunday I gave myself a good evangelical to meditate on, especially on the occasion of the strong times of Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter. Fear of being killed? “Only once – Father Gigi replies – I received expressly a threat … indeed a promise of a bullet in the forehead “, instead” I have always felt myself a missionary even with my feet chained, I would say ‘missionary from the bottom of my heart’. I often walked on the slopes of Bomoanga-Niger. My body was a prisoner of the sand dunes, but my spirit went to the villages that I mentioned in my prayer and I also repeated the names of my collaborators and of many people and young people that I carry in my heart especially the malnourished and sick children of whom I I am busy and many many faces that are a living presence in my wounded heart. I realized that mission is not just ‘doing’, but silence and fundamentally it is Missio Dei, it is the work of the Lord “.

The future is in God’s hands

Today there is no rancor towards those who held him prisoner only “much sadness” for those whom Father Pierluigi defines as “young people indoctrinated by propaganda videos”, who “do not know what they are doing” and to whom. indeed, before release. he wished in French to “realize one day that we are all brothers”. The interview ends with an eye to tomorrow, a tomorrow that the missionary hoped would rise every day, during his imprisonment, and that today he hands over to God: “at every sunset I said ‘let’s hope tomorrow’. Then at sunrise. I took up my rosary and continued to rhythm my day with the usual daily gestures, day after day. The future belongs to God, now I enjoy returning home, this is my present “.

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Pope: the Gospel is not reserved for the few elected. Father Lancellotti, his life with the poor

The Church is called to go to the crossroads of today, that is, to the geographical and existential peripheries of humanity (…). It is a matter of not settling in the comfortable and usual forms of evangelization and of witnessing to charity, but of opening the doors of our hearts and our communities to all, because the Gospel is not reserved for the few chosen “. God prepares for all his banquet: “just and sinners, good and bad, intelligent and unlearned.”

Vatican News

“The Gospel is not reserved for the few elected. Also those who are on the margins ”, those“ rejected and despised by society, are considered by God to be worthy of his love. For everyone He prepares his feast: the just and the sinners, the good and the bad, the intelligent and the uneducated. ”

The parable of the wedding banquet described in the Gospel of St. Matthew, proposed for this XXVIII Sunday in Ordinary Time, inspired the Pope’s reflection on Angelus, when he recalled, that “it is not enough to accept the invitation to follow the Lord, one must be available for a path of conversion, which changes the heart. The garment of mercy, which God offers us ceaselessly, is a free gift of his love, it is grace. And it requires being welcomed with stupor and joy. ”

Addressing those present at St. Peter’s Square on a rainy Sunday, Francis began by explaining that with the parable, “Jesus outlines the project that God designed for humanity. The king who “prepared his son’s wedding feast” is the image of the Father who organized for the whole human family a wonderful feast of love and communion around his only-begotten Son “.

He sends his servants to invite the guests who, because they are busy with other tasks, refuse the invitation, “do not want to go to the party”, as often happens with us, giving preference to “our interests and material things, instead of the Lord who call us ”.

No one is excluded from the house of God

“But the king of the parable does not want the room to be empty, because he wants to donate the treasures of his kingdom” – explains the Pope – and tells his servants to go to the crossroads of the paths to invite those they meet.

“This is how God behaves: when he is refused, instead of giving up, he proposes and invites all those who are at the crossroads of the paths, without excluding anyone. No one is excluded from the house of God ”

Gospel is not reserved for the few elected

It is for this humanity at the crossroads – emphasizes the Pontiff – that the king of the parable sends his servants, “in the certainty of finding people willing to sit at the table. Thus, the banquet room is filled with “excluded”, those who are “out”, those who never seemed worthy to attend a party, a wedding banquet. On the contrary, the king tells the messengers “to call everyone,” good and bad, everyone. God also calls the bad ones (..). Jesus, God is not afraid of our soul hurt by so much evil, because He loves us, invites us “:

“And the Church is precisely called to go to the crossroads of today, that is, to the geographical and existential peripheries of humanity, those places on the margins, those situations in which they are encamped and living crumbs of humanity without hope. It is a matter of not settling down in the comfortable and usual forms of evangelization and of witnessing to charity, but of opening the doors of our hearts and of our communities to all, because the Gospel is not reserved for the few chosen. Also those who are marginalized on the margins, even those who are rejected, those despised by society, are considered by God to be worthy of his love. For everyone He prepares his feast: the just and the sinners, the good and the bad, the intelligent and the uneducated. ”

Father Júlio Lancellotti: messenger of God who goes to the crossroads of the paths

Leaving the text, Francisco talks about his call to Father Júlio Lancellotti on Saturday afternoon, he who works with the People of the Street in the Archdiocese of São Paulo:

“Last night, I managed to call an elderly Italian priest, a youth missionary in Brazil, but always working with the excluded, with the poor. And he lives that old age in peace: he “burned” his life with the poor. This is our Mother Church, this is the messenger of God who goes to the crossroads of the paths. ”

The gratuity of grace and mercy

However – the Pope continued – the Lord places a condition: to wear the party attire, a “kind of cape that each guest received as a gift at the entrance, because” people went as they were dressed, as they could dress, they did not wear gala.” But when he enters the crowded room and greets the “last minute guests”, the king observes that one of them is without his clothes, as he rejected the free gift, “he excluded himself, so the king had no choice but to throw it away. But, “why?” Asks Francisco, who explains:

“Because I didn’t accept the gift. Because the call of Jesus is a gift. It is a gift, it is a grace. This man accepted the invitation, but decided that it meant nothing to him: he was a self-sufficient person, who had no desire to change or to be transformed by the Lord. The party dress – that mantle that is a gift, a gift – symbolizes the mercy that God gives us freely. The fun. God’s invitation to take you to the party is a grace. Without grace you cannot take a step in the Christian life. Everything is grace. It is not enough to accept the invitation to follow the Lord, it is necessary to be available for a path of conversion that changes the heart. The garment of mercy, which God ceaselessly offers us, is a free gift of his love, it is precisely grace. And it requires being welcomed with stupor and joy: “Thank you, Lord, for giving me this gift.”

Exit narrow views

May Mary Most Holy – asked Francisco at the end – help us to imitate the servants of the parable of the Gospel, in leaving our schemes and our narrow visions, announcing to all that the Lord invites us to his banquet, to offer us the grace that save, to give us the gift.

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Güirá Oga will train veterinarians in missionary wild bird medicine

The Centro de Fauna Silvestre, Güirá Oga, will train veterinarians in missionary wild bird medicine that is born out of the need to save birds that suffer accidents, whether it is impact against glass surfaces, electrocution on high voltage lines or are run over in the route. Although Güirá Oga is in charge of rehabilitating the surviving birds, it is necessary for those veterinarians who carry out the rescue to be trained in first aid.

The training is aimed at veterinarians, advanced veterinary students or those who work or are interested in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation work.

The modality of the training is virtual and will be given in two days, Thursday 27 the first module from 19 to 21 and the second will be given on Friday 28 at the same time.

In the aforementioned modules, general concepts of taxonomy, anatomy and physiology of wild birds will be explained. As well as rescue, transfer, management and containment techniques for proper clinical care of wild birds in the province of Misiones.

The course will be taught by the veterinarians of the Güirá Oga Wildlife Center – Azara Gabriel Acevedo Foundation and Dante Di Nucci, who is also a researcher attached to the Azara Foundation and is organized by the Güirá Oga Wildlife Center, the Ministry of Ecology of the province of Misiones and the Veterinary Council also of said province and the Azara Foundation.

The course is fee and to register you must communicate by email to guiraoga@fundacionazara.org.ar

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Bolivia. The missionary who brings oxygen to the sick: “The Gospel asks us to look the virus in the face”

For Aristide Gazzotti, a lay missionary from the province of Reggio Emilia, these are weeks of extraordinary activity. Its “creature” is called, precisely, Cittadella dell’Arcobaleno, based in Cochabamba, one of the main Bolivian cities, was born in 2007 and welcomes minors in situations of hardship, fragility or illness, together with their families. But since Covid-19 began to make its effects felt in Bolivia too, the activity of Gazzotti and his collaborators has expanded. Up to looking the virus in the face which, despite the official data, enters many houses and affects, even indirectly, the most fragile. It is then that Aristide intervenes, who for his ability to move in a city blocked in the past weeks since the lockdown has received from the health authorities the request to accompany those in need of health care to the hospital

There is the girl with down syndrome, infected by Covid-19, “saved” thanks to the providential oxygen. Or the Salesian father who, in respiratory crisis, while all the confreres also contracted the virus, receives providential help. Thus, the rainbow keeps popping up between suffering and death on the Bolivian plateau. For Aristide Gazzotti, lay missionary from the province of Reggio Emilia, these are weeks of extraordinary activity. Its “creature” is called, in fact, Citadel of the rainbow, based in Cochabamba, one of the main Bolivian cities, was born in 2007 and welcomes minors in situations of hardship, fragility or illness, together with their families. In all, around 100 families and 300 minors are housed in the structures of the Citadel.

But since Covid-19 began to make its effects felt in Bolivia too, the activity of Gazzotti and his collaborators has expanded.

Aristide Gazzotti

Up to looking the virus in the face which, despite the official data, enters many houses and affects, even indirectly, the most fragile. It is then that Aristide intervenes, who for his ability to move in a city blocked in the past weeks since the lockdown has received from the health authorities the request to accompany those in need of health care to the hospital. But with the Citadel he is also working to get respirators. And Aristide has turned into a real “oxygen angel”, “I would like to give oxygen to everyone”, he confesses. His story is a testimony of the Gospel and, at the same time, a cross-section on what are the consequences of Covid in a very poor country like Bolivia, with a health system, as the president of the bishops, Monsignor Ricardo said in recent days Centellas, already collapsing even before the pandemic.

The effects of the pandemic on already sick children. Starting with the children, both those hosted in the Citadel of the Rainbow and the others visited or accompanied to the hospital. There are sick children of Covid. An example is the down-epileptic girl mentioned: “A nun called us, we went, lives in a poor family, we washed and swaddled her, and we brought her oxygen, in four to five days has recovered ”. However, there are few people infected with minors, but the effects of the current situation on other sick children are clearly evident. Gazzotti tells us what has just happened, the moment we speak: “One child died this morning, another yesterday. These are not Covid-19 patients, but other pathologies, for example tumors, or kidney pathologies. The cases are many, everything has stopped here for four months. Public hospitals no longer welcome anyone, no visits or checks are made. And the usual channels for providing special drugs, in some cases very expensive, are also closed. Today, for example, I managed to buy a drug in Argentina. The consequences of the pandemic have dramatic consequences. In recent days we were assisting two children with cancer in intensive care, a boy with Covid-19 arrived and the other two were immediately discharged from intensive care “. We must not forget that “many doctors and nurses have been infected with coronavirus, various services have been suspended or decreased”.

Contagions increase in an atmosphere of fear. In this context, the presence of the Covid-19 is however in marked increase. In an atmosphere of fear and confusion, as confirmed by the director of the Cittadella dell’Arcobaleno: “People are disoriented, the infections increase, I have been touring the city for four months, everything is stopped, nothing is done. Many here support themselves by working the day. We must survive, and people are forced to go out, to try to get food.

There is a terrible confusion, in addition to doctors, many military and police officers have also contracted the virus. The state gave a voucher corresponding to around 70 euros, but the contribution is spent in a week. The data are not as high as those of other countries, yet the number of infections increases, and everyone seems to have one patient per family “. In short, even on the numbers, there is something that does not return (officially the positives are so far about 70 thousand, with over 2,500 deaths).

A virus to “touch”, like Jesus with the leper. In this situation, as mentioned, Aristide Gazzotti has decided to “face the virus”, despite all the precautions and safety devices. “For example, a community of Salesians called me. Their superior is already dead, there are 5 infected in their community. I went, I comforted them … nobody had the courage to enter. One of them needed oxygen. It is useless to go to the hospital, I am collapsing and you risk not going out alive. We are not doctors, but we managed to get oxygen cylinders, which seem impossible to find here. So we brought one to the Salesian, but the requests are many. We move, enter houses, visit children. But we are cautious and do the buffer every week, so far we have always had negative results “.

The reflection of the lay missionary continues: “My thoughts go to the epileptic down girl, whom we have cleaned, wrapped and treated, as Christ did with the leper. Even with due care, we must touch this virus, look it in the face, we must enter the lives of people who have been infected and who are suffering. This asks the Gospel to overcome fear and isolation, certainly with all precautions. He asks us to enter the pain of all these families, and a profound change of mentality. “

journalist “The Life of the People”

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