, 09 July, 2020 / 9:30 PM
Clergy and the lay faithful in Africa have paid glowing tribute to the late Emanuele Ferrario, the founder and first President of the Italy-based World Family of Radio Maria (WFRM), a private initiative within the Catholic Church that runs over 80 Marian radio stations across the world, 25 of them in Africa.
Italian-born Ferrario died Wednesday, July 8 at the age of 90.
“Thank you Emanuele for answering the call of Our Lady (and) bringing Radio Maria to Italy and to the whole world,” Fr. Livio Fanzaga, the Director of Radio Maria Italy said July 8, announcing Mr. Ferrario’s death.
In Africa, those who interacted with Mr. Ferrario have eulogized him as a man with a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and divine providence and as one who was passionate about evangelization through the media.
“I will always remember him for his devotion to Mother Mary and divine providence. He had a lot of love and you could always hear it whenever he spoke about his trust in Mother Mary, trust in God and the divine providence to provide for the growth and expansion of the radio,” the former Director of Radio Maria Kenya-Murang’a, Fr. Martin Wanyoike told ACI Africa Thursday, July 9.
Fr. Martin added in reference to Mr. Ferrario, “He believed in the power of communication so much such that he took it upon himself to look for resources to facilitate the expansion of the radio and when he got them, he would trust in the divine providence that the project of Mother Mary would expand into as many countries as possible.”
For Monica Kagoni who volunteered at Radio Maria Kenya-Murang’a for six years, Mr. Ferrario was a man who “wanted to see that every corner of Africa has received the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ,” a mission that saw him travel “from one country to another despite his old age to see that one more Radio Maria has been established.”
“His love for our Blessed Mother and her project was exceptional! He was such a strong pillar yet so humble. He has blessed the world with Radio Maria,” Ms. Monica told ACI Africa July 9 and added, “May he receive his eternal reward of reigning with Jesus in his kingdom forever.”
Fr. John Maendeleo, the former Director of Radio Maria Tanzania remembers the first President of WFRM as a man who “loved mountains and saw every hill/mountain as a transmitting platform of good news/Church teachings.”
“This reminds me of prophet Isaiah 42:11 and a few others who were commissioned by God that they have to shout to the top of mountains so that the words and praise of God may reach all God's people,” he told ACI Africa Thursday, July 9.
He added in reflection, “Can we equate Emanuele Ferrario as our present day prophet who propagated God's message via Radio Maria? I have no doubt of that. May God reward Emmanuel Ferrario all that he did to make His Kingdom known.”
For the Tanzania-based Coordinator of Radio Maria Africa, Paolo Taffuri, Mr. Ferrario was “a hardworking man determined to realize the dream of Radio Maria wherever it is called by the local Church.”
In a Facebook post, the leadership of Radio Maria Uganda-Mbarara expressed appreciation for Mr. Ferrario, acknowledging “his dedication to the evangelizing mission that our Mother Mary entrusted to him … we unite in prayer and pray for his soul to rest in peace.”
Mr. Ferrario’s journey towards establishing the stations started on January 12 1987 when he founded Radio Maria Association in Italy by taking over a parish radio station in Erba in Italy’s Milan Archdiocese.
His desire was to create a Catholic broadcaster that would announce the Gospel of conversion “with the support of volunteering, without any advertising message, through a schedule based on the pillars of prayer, evangelization and human promotion.”
With an expanded network of Marian broadcasters and a desire to set up more, Mr. Ferrario founded WFRM in 1998, an organization that facilitates the operations of radio stations across five continents.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa