NIGER: The brother of a priest abducted a year ago still hopes for his return

Father Pierluigi Maccalli says Mass in Niger (©Society of African Missions).
Father Pierluigi Maccalli says Mass in Niger (©Society of African Missions).

ONE year after the abduction of Italian priest Father Pierluigi Macalli in Niger, his brother Father Walter Macalli – also a missionary priest – expressed hopes that he will be set free.

Speaking on the first anniversary of his brother’s abduction, Father Walter Macalli of the Society of Africa Missions in Foya, Liberia, West Africa, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that despite no word from the kidnappers he believes he will be released safely.

He said: “A year has passed since Gigi was abducted, and unfortunately we have heard nothing since then.

“All the news from journalists and from the government of Burkina Faso to the effect that he had been or would be brought back to Niger are no more than suppositions that have not been confirmed.”

Father Pierluigi Macalli was abducted from his home in Bamoanga, Niger on 17th September 2018 by eight armed men on motorcycles. His whereabouts are still unknown.

According to his brother “after the first moments of tension and fear during his abduction, he will undoubtedly have found a response to this new mission in prayer…

“[I]n other words in his sense of being a missionary from the depths of his heart, exercising his ministry with fidelity and compassion, as he had always done in his parish community in Bomoanga, doing good, helping his fellow captives, with a kind word for his captors, comforting and caring for the sick…”

Father Walter said the year since his brother’s abduction had put him “in a state of mind that cannot be put into words” and waiting for his release “is like an open wound that remains open and does not heal over”.

He added: “This is our hope, that he will be set free. We know that these things take time, but we continue to hope with faith and patience for his liberation.

“The prayers we pray daily in our village are prayed with this hope. There are many people who are praying for him.

“He did good before in his mission in Bomoanga, and I am quite certain that he is continuing to do so in his ‘new mission’.”

Father Walter said: “When we are on a mission, we are not concerned with the danger we are running, but with our mission, because we have an important duty to fulfil, namely to proclaim the Gospel.”

Father Walter thanked ACN’s benefactors for their support.

He said: “May you remember us, the missionaries, in your prayers and may you not forget us, may you always continue to express your solidarity in your prayers and your practical support, which is so important to us.

“May you continue to spread news and give witness of unity and peace, so that these persecutions may come to an end. And may God bless you all and your families. Many, many thanks.”

ACN is supporting priests in Niger and religious Sisters in nearby Burkina Faso.