Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - There has been no news regarding Father Gigi Maccalli, the priest of the Society for African Missions kidnapped by the diocese of Bomoanga (see Fides, 18/9/2018) since September 17, 2018. Despite the silence, family members, confreres who are friends of the missionary are waiting for his release.
"My first experience of priestly life in the community with an SMA confrere, was with Father Gigi", says to Agenzia Fides Fr. John Arokiya Dass, Indian SMA missionary. "I lived with him for the first three years of priesthood until that evening of 17 September 2018".
Fr. Dass retraced those terrible days with us: "on September 7th Gigi had returned to Niamey from a vacation in Italy and on the 12th in Bomoanga where, the next day, we had already planned the 2018-19 pastoral year. On Sunday, September 16, returning from a mission, I had a malaria crisis and he took care of me. On 17th evening - continues Fr. John - after celebrating Mass he came back to let me eat. He asked me to rest and went back to his room. At about 9.30 pm I heard people coming into our campus, screaming and howling. I heard Gigi repeating "sortez, sortez", after which I heard shots. Shortly after, our cook called me to tell me that Gigi had been kidnapped and asked me not to leave my room. I started calling to inform about the incident, the next day I was asked to stay in one of the parishioners' houses in the village".
"While the entire diocese of Niamey was in shock - the missionary continues - I was asked to leave the parish and remain in Niamey. Two months later, in December, I joined the priests of Makalondi, although I often went to Bomoanga and tried to do things as Gigi did. On that occasion I realized how difficult it is to accompany and take care of the sick".
"I don't know where he is or how he is today", concludes Fr. Dass - but I am sure one day Fr. Gigi will come back and will continue to live the mission, inspire many young hearts and bring many souls to the light of Christ. We cannot change the past but we firmly believe that with our prayers one day God will certainly release Fr. Luigi from the hands of the kidnappers and send him back to us". (JAD/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 16/9/2019)