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News   -  12  ( 01.05.2006 )

Marcelin Forcellini,
untiring missionary in the Congo


Damaso Zuazua, ocd - Secretary for the Missions


          Fr. Marcelino was born on December 6, 1930 in Paris, he is a citizen of the tiny Republic of San Marino, the only Carmelite from this independent State.  He has been a missionary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for no less than 38 years. He has been the founding father or parish priest in several of our houses with little glory and many difficulties.  He has lived through many political conflicts and economical disasters.  He has also suffered from Malaria and other illnesses on many occasions. But for him the important thing is to serve and to do that with generosity.


          On March 9th, this year, he was honoured by the San Marino Republic.  The reason stated at a ceremony was: “simply his great life, consecrated to the service of the poor, constituting a praiseworthy example of gratitude in line with the noblest traditions of San Marino”.  The prize consisted of a generous sum of money plus a sculpture.  The people who attended the ceremony in a theatre were shown a video of some moments in Fr. Marcelino’s missionary life.


          The following is a brief response by this missionary to some questions:


- Are you happy Fr. Marcelino with this honour?

- Certainly I am!  No so much for myself but for the missionary cause and ideal of Carmel, which acknowledges in today’s world the value of a life dedicated to and offered for the poor and marginalized of society.  It is a stimulant and help for missionaries to strive ever more in their various enterprises. It is also a stimulant for our wealthy and materialistic society, to open itself to appreciate higher values than those of its own wellbeing and selfishness.  I am also happy with the gift of money as it will go to help our missionary work.


What did you think when they awarded you this prize?

At first I did not believe it.  I thought it was a friend in San Marino having a joke.  It was in fact a friend who told me of the prize but then came the official notification. I had to believe it and accept it. I thought to myself: “but how could they have thought of you”? I thought also of many other missionaries who have not been recognized by the world for what they do.  The prize is an acknowledgment of the work of all missionaries, many of them deserving this prize more than I do.


- How did you come to be a missionary?

- From my seminary days I wanted to be a missionary when I read about the missions. When I was 38 and Novice Director I did not think of the missions. But in 1938 the Roman Province, to which I belonged, was offered the opportunity of beginning a mission in Congo-Kinshasa. My name was not on the list of pioneers but at the last moment one of them could not go and the Provincial asked me to go. What a surprise. How my life was to change. My colleagues did not believe that I would remain there for long as my health was not very good.


- What were your first impressions of the Congo in 1968?

- Today Europe is multi-racial.  But when I landed in Kinshasa I was struck by the black faces of the crowd.  I seemed to be in a sea of black people. I was also impressed by the simple smile that the children gave us. They ask for everything but I was won over by their unaffectedness and joy.


- Tell us about your most difficult or most dangerous moment in these 38 years as a missionary?

- When our novitiate in Kananga was attacked and destroyed in 1993. Don’t ask me any more questions about that…


- And your most joyful moment?

- When I see a child, with its eyes wide open and its face lit up with a smile, in response to the little that I have been able to do for it.


         Many of our missionaries committed to their work do so without any kind of acknowledgment.  We thank these missionaries who help to improve the lives of many people.




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Updated 06 mag 2006  by OCD General House
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