Italian missionary dies in Madagascar after 59 years of service to 'poorest of the poor'

“He was simply a Christian”: Italian missionary dies in Madagascar after 59 years of service to “poorest of the poor”

(Source: CD/Fides)

At 4 in the morning on Tuesday 30 June, Don Pietro Ganapini, for 59 years a Fidei Donum missionary in Madagascar, died.

He was the pioneer and dean of the Reggio missionaries, and he spent every day of his life at the service of the poorest, especially children, those whom he affectionately called “the poorest of the poor”, those who did not have the opportunity to study.

Born in Pantano di Carpineti on 19 January 1928, he received priestly ordination on 13 August 1950.

After a few years of teaching in the seminary, enthusiasm for the publication of the encyclical “Fidei Donum” led him in November 1961 to leave for Madagascar as a missionary, the first of the diocese of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla to do so, opening the way for many more priests, nuns and lay people.

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According to his will, his mortal remains will remain in Madagascar. 

Mgr. Massimo Camisasca, Bishop of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla, recalled:

“Don Pietro Ganapini is one of the most singular figures, perhaps the most significant, of the missionaries from Reggio who lived their ministry in the second half of the twentieth century and in these first years of the new millennium. It can be said that his whole adult life coincided with the missionary vocation. Since 1961 he lived in Madagascar where he was sent by Bishop Beniamino Socche.

“The schools he created and managed are today a fundamental axis of the country’s weak educational system.

“The more than one hundred school residences that, with the help of his friends, Pietro Ganapini set up in recent years are the sign of a tireless and lucid perception of the value of education for the present and future of a Church and a nation.

“Don Pietro gave us the testimony of a missionary life at the service of the poor, without any shadow of sociological or ideological bias. He was simply a Christian”.

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More stories on mission and missionaries, on Novena:

In message for Mission Day, Pope invites Catholics to be “ever more open to the need of our brothers and sisters for dignity and freedom”

“Get your hands dirty in the frontier Churches”: Pope sends future Vatican diplomats on mission ‘gap year’

Belgian missionary murdered in South Africa remembered as “full of enthusiasm, life and dedication”


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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.
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