AFRICA/NIGER - The Church of Niamey: prayer and fasting for Father Maccalli

Thursday, 18 October 2018 kidnappings   missionaries   missionary institutes   evangelization   prayer   fasting  

Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - The diocese of Niamey has begun a prayer triduum for the release of Father Gigi Maccalli. "The last day of the triduum, which takes place from 17 to 19 October, will be a day of fasting that all the faithful will observe" reports to Agenzia Fides, from Niamey, Father Vito Girotto, of the Society for African Missions (SMA) and parish priest of the parish of Makalondi, close to that of Bomoanga, where Fr. Maccalli was a parish priest.
"I take care of the parish that I had to leave after the kidnapping. On Sunday I celebrated mass there. After the kidnapping of Fr. Gigi I was obliged to leave. Since then I have been living in Niamey ".
Fr. Mauro Armanino, also a SMA missionary in Niamney, tells Fides that, after the abduction, the diocese has reorganized religious assistance to the Christian communities of Bomoanga, Kankani and Makalondi region, for security reasons: "The Bishop has a pastoral team, based in Makalondi, a place considered more secure, which will accompany the three parishes. This is a new experience dictated by urgency, but which could prove fruitful from a pastoral point of view".
Father Mauro informs that the diocese held its assembly at the beginning of the pastoral year 2018-2019: "The theme related to the Youth Pastoral was reconfirmed for the second consecutive year, with the addition of the reference to the cross of Jesus. The memory of the churches burned in January 2015 is still very much alive, and there is little trust in society. But we must revive it, for the good of the country and peaceful coexistence. The abduction of Fr. Pierluigi has created a climate of dismay and fear, but also of prayer and solidarity".
Fr. Armanino traces a picture of the life of the local Church: "In the diocese of Niamey, one of the two in the country, there are 37 priests and 69 religious, plus a few lay brothers and some consecrated women", recalls Fr. Mauro. "The parishes are in the city and in the rural area. The area currently most open to evangelization is that of Gourmanché, on the border with Burkina Faso, the area where Fr. Gigi was kidnapped", he adds. "There are various ecclesial, diocesan and parish movements for children, young people and families. The presence of Catholics in the country does not reach 50 thousand people. Most of them are foreigners, immigrants from Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria. The pastoral approach, at least so far, has been to stay with people, accompanying their journey. There are many social works run by the Church: schools, medical clinics, Caritas, which offer a testimony of free love for all". (MP/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 18/10/2018)