jöel arti"... In every way we’re troubled but not cr ushed, frustrated but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. We are always carrying around the death of Jesus in our bodies, so that the life of Jesus may be clearly shown in our bodies. While we are alive, we are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be clearly shown in our mortal bodies. And so death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. ... "2 Corinthians 4: 7-15.

Seven months ago, the world woke up to the sad news of the abduction of an Italian SMA missionary. Fr. Luigi Maccalli, nicknamed Gigi by his relatives and friends. For 11 years, he was in Bomoanga 150 km southwest of Niamey, the capital of Niger, and close to the border of Burkina Faso. Since his abduction, his fellow SMA confreres, relatives and friends, and the communities where he served as a missionary continue to pray for his release!


On 05 October 2018, the SMA family in the province of Lyon organized a vigil of prayer in their chapel for the liberation of Gigi, led by the former archbishop of Niamey, Michel Cartateguy.
Five months later, another prayer service was organized. On April 11, the SMA fathers, surrounded by the Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles, the Catechist Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, the Fraternity of Lay Missionaries, as well as other religious congregations where the SMA fathers offer services and some lay faithful gathered at Notre-Dame de Fourvière at 15h UTC + 2 CEST to pray for the release not only of Gigi but also of Sister Gloria of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate who was abducted in 2017 by a branch of Al Qaeda and Fr. Joel Yougbaré, a diocesan priest from Burkina Faso.

From his diocese of Fada n'Gurma he went as Fidei Donun in the Diocese of Dori very poor in clergy. He was abducted in March 2019 as he returned to his parish after celebrating Mass in a village. The prayer session also included all the other hostages held in the Sahel and around the world. It was presided over by the former archbishop of Niamey, His Excellency Michel Cartateguy, who introduced the prayers in the following terms:

"I thank each and every one of you for your presence, for this time of prayer at the feet of Our Lady of Fourvière in communion with the hostages of the Sahel. Here, the founder of our congregation came 163 years ago to entrust his missionary work. It is here that he drew his hope. He needed a lot of them knowing that he would face a lot of adversity in his mission and especially yellow fever, a relentless disease that will befall him and his companions a few days after their arrival on the African continent.
It is this same hope that we come to draw from Our Lady of Fourvière because the difficulties are always present for the missionaries as for the Christian communities. Interreligious and interethnic violence, sustained by forces that escape us, reaches several countries in which we have worked.

Through this prayer, we approach Mary, who has followed her Son to Calvary, silently sympathizing to his great grief. She will know how to transform our suffering, our sadness and our anger into hope to hold on to the sun of God. "
Fr. Jean Paul Kpacha, SMA from Togo, was called upon to light candles for Sr. Gloria, Fr. Luigi, and Fr. Joel and a third candle for those who were kidnapped without being talked about, for those who were exiled and for those who died in anonymity. They were all present at the heart of this prayer.
Accompanied by hymns, some psalms such as Shame to those who want to destroy me, Ps 70/71 and Force of the presence of the Father, Ps 91, were chanted during the forty-five minutes of prayer.

The reading proposed for meditation was extracted from the letter of St. Paul and was read by Fr. Emile Appraboe, an Ivorian SMA. This was followed by universal prayers chosen for the occasion and read by nuns from the heart of the assembly. Special intentions for other needs in the world were also offered by Fr. Yves Chogli,SMA from Togo and currently in service in Chaponost.

Before the final blessing, after the prayer session in a serene environment, the Angelus was sung and the assembly slowly dispersed.
Fr. Pier Luigi had been in Bomoanga since November 2007. In addition to evangelization, he had devoted himself to human promotion, responding to the social needs of the parish population, such as the drilling of wells, the construction of schools and of health care centers and training courses for young farmers. He also organized sensitization meetings to combat harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation.

It is hoped that one day, Gigi will be united not only to his family, but also to his community that misses his services and presence among them.