The brother of a priest who was abducted a year ago in Niger has not given up hope that he will be set free.
Italian priest Fr Pierluigi Macalli, known as Gigi, had served as a missionary priest in Niger for over 10 years when he was abducted on 17 September 2018 from his home in Bomoanga, near the border with Burkina Faso.
He was reportedly seized by eight armed men on motorcycles but his kidnappers have never made any demands, nor provided any word on his condition or whereabouts.
His brother, Fr Walter Macalli, of the Society of Africa Missions in Foya, Liberia, West Africa, said that his brother’s abduction had left him “in a state of mind that cannot be put into words” and that it was “like an open wound that remains open and does not heal over”.
Speaking on the first anniversary of his brother’s abduction, Fr Walter told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that he was still hoping he would be released.
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.”
Fr Walter said he his brother would “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,” he said.
He said there were many people praying for his brother’s safe return.
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’.”
He added: “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.”