CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Farewell for now to Father Paolo Morlacchi


by Gianni Criveller


A 41-year veteran of mission in Hong Kong, Father Paolo Morlacchi, from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), said good bye to his friends in the territory and departed for his native Italy on night of December 18.

First arriving in Hong Kong on 14 November 1971, Father Morlacchi always said that he would like to see out his days in the land he had grown to love, but a major stroke suffered in May this year, while he was stationed at St. Benedict parish in Shatin, put a different perspective on the future of the 79-year-old missionary.

In a serious condition, he was treated at Prince of Wales Hospital in Shatin, but after a few months was transferred to Canossa Hospital in the Mid-Levels.

He was a good patient, as he endured the initial inabilities and discomfort without complaint and, although he has made good progress, it is not foreseen that he would be able to return to pastoral work in a parish in the foreseeable future.

Father Morlacchi’s destination is Rancio, in Lecco, northern Italy, where the PIME society runs a home for its elderly and infirm missionaries. A well equipped facility, it is set in a wonderful environment, extremely familiar to Father Morlacchi, as he served there for three years in the 1990s.

A further blessing for him is that he will be close to his big family, with whom he has always maintained close ties. It is almost like a home-coming for him and it is hoped that in the friendly and comfortable surrounds his health will improve quickly.

Father Morlacchi’s ambition has always been to spend the rest of his life among the faithful and wonderful people of Hong Kong. 

For the last 40 years he has served with generous dedication and sincere zeal in various parishes, including Sai Kung, Yuen Long, Ho Man Tin, Rosary Church and St. Benedict in Sha Tin.

He is particularly loved and appreciated for his great enthusiasm and the generosity he poured into visiting the sick, to whom, until recently, he spent long hours ministering at the Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales Hospitals.

His sympathetic attention to the sick may have been nurtured by the fact that he suffered a lot in his life, undergoing long periods of hospitalisation and numerous operations, due to a serious road accident in 1973 and another accident in 1997, as well as his recent stroke.

During the past seven months a group friends and people from the parishes where he has worked faithfully visited him daily, despite any personal inconvenience they may have incurred, showing a great deal of affection and devotion to the man who had given the same care and attention to others.

We wish Father Morlacchi a full and speedy recovery, so that with God’s grace, he may resume his service to mission.

The PIME missionaries would like to thank his devoted friends and the wonderful medical staff who nursed and looked after him at both the Prince of Wales and Canossa Hospitals.


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