Madrid (Agenzia Fides) - "I want to thank God, who has given me the opportunity to be born again and to return to my mission". These are the words of Sr. Gloria Cecilia Narváez, a Colombian missionary nun who was awarded the "Blessed Paulina Jaricot" Prize, established this year by the Spanish Direction of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) on the occasion of World Mission Sunday. The award was "shared" by Sister Gloria Cecilia with the Italian missionary Pier Luigi Maccalli, who wanted to dedicate this recognition to the people of Bomoanga and Niger, inviting them to pray for peace in the world. Both missionaries shared the experience of being kidnapped by jihadist groups in Mali and subsequently released. Sister Narváez and Father Maccalli received this award for the testimony of faith offered even during the hard moments of captivity, and also expressed by their desire to return to the mission, in the midst of their people.
Inspired by the figure of Blessed Paulina Jaricot, foundress of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the award was presented this year on the occasion of the PMS anniversary celebrations (see Fides, 3/5/2022).
Sister Narváez, whose vocation was born in a Missionary Childhood group in her village, explained how the presence of God became clearer at the time that she also lived the experience of the cross during the almost five years of seizure. After that experience of suffering, Sister Gloria Cecilia perceived even more intensely how beautiful and important it is to bring the joy and consolation of Jesus to tired and suffering people, to whom they hope to find "the mercy of that God who becomes man".
For his part, father Maccalli underlined how "our stories as hostages of jihadism have put the focus on an area of Africa where many forgotten wars are being lived" and recalled that the days before his release he had heard on the radio that the Pope had signed the encyclical "Fratelli Tutti". Without knowing more, those two words inspired him to pronounce this sentence to the jihadist leader who was leading him to liberation: "May God make us understand one day that we are all brothers".
Sister Gloria Cecilia and Father Luigi also turned their thoughts to World Mission Sunday. Sister Narvaez thanked the PMS for their work "for the great good they do in the world", and invited all Spanish to continue to collaborate for World Mission Day: "Thanks to the PMS we have been able to bottle-feed one hundred babies from our orphanage and we have been able to have a dining room". Father Maccalli insisted on how the Day dedicated to the missions is an opportunity to experience "an embrace of solidarity with the world - our common home - and specifically with the poor". (EG) (Agenzia Fides, 25/10/2022)