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