Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - More than four months have passed since that September 17 when Father Gigi Maccalli, a priest of the Society for African Missions (SMA), was kidnapped from Bomoanga. "This tragic event radically changed the whole life of the Church in the Gourmantché sector, the most flourishing of the Archdiocese of Niamey in terms of the number of Christians and catechumens", says Father Antonio Porcellato, Vicar General of SMA to Agenzia Fides, who has recently returned from Niger.
The Vicar explains: "For security reasons, our three European SMA missionaries, Fr. Vito Girotto and two Spanish Fathers Isidro and Pepe, had to leave the area and cannot return. Two others, Fr. Dass, Indian and Fr. Sylvestre, Beninese, are part of a team that serves Makalondi's three parishes in Gourmantché. Unfortunately now the service is limited because motorbikes and cars can only circulate during the day and only on the asphalt road that goes from Niamey to Burkina Faso. Many rural communities can therefore only be reached on foot or by bicycle. In the parish of Bomoanga you cannot even access on foot all the part that goes towards the border with Burkina because of the risk of attacks".
"Throughout the sector - the missionary continues - the activities and pastoral and social initiatives of the parishes are suspended, except Sunday Masses in the main centers accessible by car. It is a time of trial for all in which only faith and perseverance will support the communities of the villages, who must go forward without the help of priests and missionaries".
"All ten confreres with whom I shared my experience in Niger are convinced that their place is here, in this largely Muslim society, and have reaffirmed their desire to collaborate with the Archbishop of Niamey Mgr. Laurent Lompo and the other pastoral workers of the diocese. In such a delicate context - continues Fr. Porcellato - I think it was important to make all our priests and the Bishop feel the closeness of the whole SMA congregation. In the hope of seeing Fr. Maccalli soon". (AP/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 13/2/2019)