Fr Marazzi: My thanks for 60 years of missionary priesthood
The PIME missionary is among the priests, men and women religious in the diocese of Hong Kong celebrating their jubilee of 70, 60, 50, 25 years of consecration. This year, due to the pandemic, the celebration took place online.
by Mario Marazzi
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – On December 5, the diocese of Hong Kong celebrated the jubilees of ordination and consecration of the religious personnel of the diocese. Together with three sisters who are celebrating 70 years of their perpetual vows, there are 35 priests, men and women religious who have reached 60, 50, and 25 years of consecration. This group includes Fr. Mario Marazzi, 92, PIME missionary, celebrating his 60 years of priesthood. The feast of the jubilees takes place close to the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, to which the cathedral in Hong Kong is dedicated. But this year, due to the pandemic, the celebration had been planned only online. In Hong Kong, since December 2, all in-person celebrations have been cancelled.
Below we publish a letter of thanks from Fr. Mario Marazzi to all those who have contributed to his vocation. We too would like to thank him. Among other things, for the many years spent as AsiaNews secretary in Milan.
Sixty years ago I became a priest and missionary and was sent to Hong Kong. This is above all, an opportunity to thank God for the calling me and to thank you all, who have accompanied me in so many ways over the years.
As a young man I always thought that I would get married, but suddenly the course of my life changed direction. Thanks to my family. My father died when we were little. My mother, who took care of us, never spoke to us males of a vocation, but her education was a good preparation. When I left home, I had to earn money to help my keep my family, but my family was generous in letting me go. I am grateful to them for their continued support.
I thank the world of work where I spent 10 years before entering the seminary. It was a school of life. The experience of the [Italian WWII] Resistance, which I lived following some tragic events in the town and listening to what little news could be picked up, helped me to understand the meaning, value and love for freedom. I am grateful to Catholic Action which in that period introduced me to some principles of the Church’s social doctrine and prepared me for a civil commitment in the immediate post-war period.
I give thanks to the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, PIME. Having completed a three-year professional induction course after elementary school, I had not done classical studies. During one summer at PIME in Monza I was initiated into the world of studies, which I completed the following year in Vigarolo (Lodi). I am grateful to so many Fathers who helped me before and after my ordination. Obviously, I owe a special thanks to the Hong Kong confreres of the past and present for all the good I have received. I am grateful to the people of Hong Kong and Guangzhou. By people I mean Catholic and non-Catholic lay people, religious, priests and bishops who made me feel at home. I thank many people from Italy who in so many ways, especially with prayer, have accompanied me on my mission.
Looking back on these 60 years, I feel like saying that everything has been grace, including the depression that hit me and the 18 years I spent at the Missionary Centre in Milan. What were the best times? The 10 years spent in Guangzhou with the disabled and those spent with a PIME seminarian in an apartment in a building on the outskirts of Hong Kong awaiting the construction of the church.
I wish to recall an episode from life in this building. A beautiful friendship was born with a small group of Protestant pastors who worked in the area. So much so that when one of them got married he invited me to the wedding. After the party I went home. It was evening and our apartment was dark. The seminarian was out on some engagement. For a few moments I felt sad and lonely and I was assailed by a thought: my pastor friend continues the party with his wife, but here nobody is waiting for me. Then I looked out the window: there lived my people in the big illuminated blocks, the people to and for whom I had been sent. And the tiny chapel next to it was the place where in prayer I found the strength to start over each day with joy. It was not difficult that evening to find peace of mind.
Someone has asked me: now that you are getting on in years, why do you not retire in Italy? Actually my Institute has a beautiful hospice in Lecco for elderly or sick missionaries. However, like so many of my confreres, I prefer to stay in Hong Kong. Not because it is more beautiful here than in Italy, but because I feel I can fully share the life of these people.
I accompany you all in this pandemic time, in the wish that you may spend Christmas peacefully in your homes. I ask you to pray for the Christians of China, subject to restrictions and control. They are concerned about the religious education of their children, who up to the age of 18 are not admitted to church services and cannot receive any Christian education. I also commend the citizens of Hong Kong to you, apprehensive for the new generations whose future is very uncertain.