Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Kieran O'Reilly
The Archbishop of Cashel & Emly, Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly SMA, has asked for prayers for the safe return of a missing missionary priest from his congregation, the Society of African Missions, who is believed to have been abducted by jihadists.
Father Pierluigi Maccalli SMA was kidnapped on Monday in south Niger, near the border with Burkina Faso, allegedly by a group of jihadist militants.
The Society of African Missions is an international community of Catholic missionaries which serves the people of Africa.
Archbishop O’Reilly said: “I am asking the faithful of our Archdiocese, and all people of goodwill, to join with me in praying for Father Pierluigi’s wellbeing and safety. It is a very worrying time as we wait in hopeful anticipation of our brother priest’s safe return.”
Father Pierluigi is originally from the Diocese of the northern Italian town of Crema and had worked for years as a missionary in Ivory Coast before transferring to the parish of Bomoanga, in Niamey Diocese.
The region has been struggling to defeat jihadist groups, including some affiliated with al Qaeda and Islamic State, which are active along Niger's porous borders with both Mali and Burkina Faso.