Fr. Maccalli had been a missionary in Ivory Coast for several years before being commissioned to Bomoanga parish in Niger’s Archdiocese of Niamey, which has been described as “an isolated and neglected area because of the lack of roads, communications and infrastructure.”
In the October 14 report, the Rome-based SMA Superior General notes that while in captivity, Fr. Maccalli “felt abandoned, he did not know where his captors took him each time and he had doubts also about the role of the SMA: what are they doing to free me?”
“But he never lost hope, trust, and the sense of God's presence that accompanied him everywhere,” he adds in reference to Fr. Maccalli.
Fr. Antonio also notes that while other prisoners converted to Islam “more out of convenience than out of conviction, to get better treatment,” Fr. Maccalli “always remained calm and convinced in his faith, in his relationship with the Lord."
Without access to a Bible and the Eucharist, Fr. Maccalli “learned to listen to silence – the silence of the great Sahara Desert, the inner silence,” Fr. Antonio recounts what his freed confrere has been sharing and adds, “Like the prophet Isaiah, he could feel the presence of God in silence, in solitude. He found that God always gave him strength.”
The SMA Superior General says he treasures the encounter he has had with Fr. Maccalli after his release.
“They were moments that I will never forget, that will remain forever in my mind,” Fr. Antonio says.
The October 8 release of Fr. Maccalli was received with joy and gratitude by SMA leadership, his confreres, the Archbishop of Niamey, Laurent Lompo, the Local Ordinary of his native Diocese of Crema in Italy, Bishop Daniele Gianotti, as well as the Secretary of the Vatican-based Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, among others.
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