Fr. Maraccani (1936-2020)
Sacro Cuore, Rome, June 2020 — Four months after former Secretary and Procurator General of the Salesian Congregation, Fr. Francesco Maraccani (1936-2020), passed away, we have in our hands an inspiring ‘mortuary letter’ put together by Fr. Francesco Cereda (former Vicar of the Rector Major) and enriched by a large variety of 20 testimonies from many Salesian Family members and close relatives of Fr. Maraccani.
A very human, spiritual, apostolic and very Salesian profile of Fr. Francesco stands out in so many ways – good spiritual reading for all of our provincial secretaries and all who are involved in administration around the Congregation. Some citations from the letter follow:
Fr. Maraccani is a beautiful, transparent, joyful, intelligent figure. It is difficult to illustrate his profile, given the many facets of his personality. He is a multifaceted figure with many interests: from the liturgy to the history of the Church and the Congregation, to ecclesial events, science and current affairs. He loved the Sacred Heart, Mary Help of Christians and Don Bosco, the saints and blesseds of the Salesian Family. He had been trained to work tirelessly. Work was the visible sign of his apostolic passion. In the Lombardo-Emiliana (ILE) Province they had coined an expression: “Working like dogs is demanding enough, but working like Maraccani [a play on the word ‘cani’=dogs] just doesn’t compare.” I imagine that in Heaven he will go to St Peter to ask for some work to do; what Don Bosco said: “We will rest in Heaven” will not apply to him. Work in its various forms is the hallmark of the Salesian: apostolic work, manual and intellectual work, work sanctified by union with God. For him, Don Bosco’s words were a refrain: “Work, work, work”. His desk with its many papers was a sign of the work he had in hand. Illness and physical ailments never prevented him from neglecting his duties; he knew how to live peacefully with illness. Above all, he was a man of prayer, and the many tasks and the great time dedicated to work did not prevent him from a life of confident, prolonged and contemplative prayer.
He was simple, and there was something nice about the way he let himself be “teased”, especially by dear Fr. Giovanni Fedrigotti who always dedicated a playful verse to him in songs during some community gatherings. And it was also like this at the meeting of the Rector Major and General Council with Pope Benedict XVI, after his resignation. Seeing Fr. Maraccani the Pope said to him: “But are you still here?” Fr. Maraccani would recount this joke with a smile and was pretty much pleased that the Pope recognised him for his long service to the Congregation he loved so much….”
… we may be also inspired by what was ‘almost a summary of his vocation’ – recalled in 2007, on the occasion of the 40 years of his priestly ordination when he was thanking God as follows:
“I want to thank You, O Lord, first of all for the gift of life, in a family (Dad, Mum, Mari) that has led me to love You.
Thank you for the many gifts with which you have enriched me and especially for the gift of my vocation which grew at the oratory in Pavone, with the wise and loving guidance of Fr. Beneditti.
Thank you for having always accompanied me, also with the help of your Mother, Mary, in my studies and training (Nave, Parma, Milan, Rome), where I was also able to experience Salesian work among young people (school, assistance).
How can I not recall the most beautiful stages and moments: the professions (the first in Montodine and perpetual in Missaglia) and above all my priestly ordination, 40 years ago, in the church at Pavone.
You consecrated me priest, dispenser in your name of your grace and love, you gave me the power to make you truly present, with your Body and Blood, for the salvation of your people, especially the young, like Don Bosco, and in the style of Don Bosco.
I have tried to be faithful during the years of direct ministry among the young and the people in Brescia, in the school, the oratory, the parish, and then as Provincial, with my confreres; and again in the tasks entrusted to me in Rome, even if no longer directly among the young.
Unfortunately, at times I have been weak in my union with you, in my unconditional love, total dedication and humble service. Forgive me and help me to take up the task again every day with confidence and courage, despite the difficulties, even physical ones.
Today I want to renew my response to your gift, to be a Salesian priest, truly all yours and at the service of your love, for the good of my brothers and sisters. With Mary and with Don Bosco.”