Malawians have mourned a retired Italian builder who died of malaria after spending his retirement helping to build missions in Africa.
Giacomo Marcialli, 64, was from Lurano province of Bergamo in Italy, Fides reports. He arrived in Malawi last year to work with the Malawi nel Cuore Association, in which his sister Giuditta is also a member. He helped enlarge the Namandaje hospital in the district of Mangochi.
“After years of hard work, he had discovered his vocation: to help Africa, to make his personal contribution to the missions,” the Italian Monfort missionary Fr. Piergiorgio Gamba told Fides.
Fr. Gamba, who has been a missionary in Malawi for years, reported that Marcialli had helped with several missionary projects in Cameroon before coming to Malawi.
In Malawi, Marcialli was known as Marcello. Before his death last month, he helped prepare festivities for the ordination of Fr. Wilfred Sumani.
“And it was on that very day that he began his Calvary due to an attack of malaria which eventually killed him,” Fr. Gamba said.
On June 29, following a vigil and a night of prayer, the Christians of Namandanje offered to accompany Marcialli’s body on the long journey to the church of St. Paul’s Seminary in Mangochi. The seminary church is where funerals are held for missionaries and priests of the diocese.
“The church was too small and the school children overflowed into in the seminary portico. Boys and girls came to say farewell to a travelling companion whom they had hardly known, because he had lived in a small church far away from Mangochi, and whom today they hailed as a brother,” Fr. Gamba said.
“This is the soul of Africa. This is the richness of its villages.”
Bishop of Mangochi Alessandro Pagani presided at the liturgy with all the priests of the diocese, Fides reports.
The bishop thanked the faithful for welcoming the missionary.
“He was not one of your sons, you hardly knew him, he spoke only a few words of your language... why have you come to his funeral? This is the power of the faith, this is what it means to be Christians,” the bishop said.
Fr. Gamba noted that Marcialli was buried in the same cemetery as former Bishop of Mangochi Luciano Nervi and priests of the diocese.
“Giacomo is the first lay volunteer to rest in peace with bishops and priests. The impossibility to have members of his family here and above all his request to be buried here in Malawi, was seen by the Catholics of Mangochi as a great gift.
“These young people are anxious to learn the lesson Giacomo left as his legacy. They are the Church of 2009, the Year of the Synod for Africa.
“Thanks to Giacomo who believed in them. Thanks to this Church, continually new.”