Three months have gone by since the kidnapping of Father Pier Luigi Maccalli, a priest of the Society for African Missions, SMA. There is no news on the place where he is held prisoner or on the steps taken to release him, Fides News Agency reported December 17, 2018. His mission in Bomoanga, in Niger, where he worked for more than 11 years, has been closed: the missionaries and nuns had to take refuge in Niamey, the capital. The few remaining Christians are in despair. How will their Christmas be this year? And how will Father Gigi live it?
“Through some writings of Fr. Gigi himself, all of us, his SMA confreres, keep hope alive,” said Fr. Marco Prada, SMA.
For the 2013 Christmas celebrations Fr. Gigi wrote: “In the evening, in my mission, I often look at the sky. Today I understand why there are so many bright stars: they are the stars of the innocent. In Niger alone, malnutrition has already caused the death of more than 2,500 children between the month of January and September this year. We must also remember the news of last October: the macabre discovery of 92 bodies of migrants found at about ten kilometers from the border with Algeria. The truck that carried them broke down in the Nigerian desert. The victims were 7 men, 37 women, and 48 children. Even then there was a massacre of innocent: Rachel continues to cry her children and does not want to be consoled.
In 2014, the abducted missionary said: “This year, Christmas will be in the new church, even if it is still under construction and there are no doors or windows. For now, it is more like a stable: goats and sheep take refuge to protect themselves from the sun and the hens lay their eggs in the hidden corners.
Christmas 2017 – the last one spent freely in his community – Fr. Gigi urged not to give up hope: “Life is a network of two threads: joys and sorrows. Only the shepherds heard the angels sing in the sky on Christmas night, but many heard the broken sorrow of the women of Bethlehem who mourned the innocent saints. Christmas among tears of joy and sorrow, which merge together in a single embrace, in the river of life. So it is on a mission: an intertwining of experiences and strong emotions that tell the beauty of human adventure, which even God wanted to share and embrace …. but we do not abandon the hope that one day the desert will flourish!”