PROVINCIALATE — July 18, 2015, at 4:33 A.M., Philippine time, Fray Dominador Mercado, Jr., OAR, local prior of Recoletos de Kamalo in Sierra Leone, which is eight hours behind us, sent an FB message to the Provincial Secretary with two updates: first, that Ebola is already absent in their district for more than three months since late March, and second, that the Papal Nuncio would be coming to Makeni to announce a news—to which he added, “I hope good news. We will update you later, Father.”
Ten hours later, Fray Mercado sent another message, the much-anticipated good news: “We have a new bishop-elect!”
He was referring to Rev. Fr. Natale Paganelli, SX, the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Makeni since 2012, and now elevated to the office of Bishop. Originally from Bergamo, Italy, Paganelli is a member of the religious congregation of Xaverians working in Sierra Leone.
During the appointment ceremony at the Pastoral Center in Makeni on July 18, at 10 A.M. (Sierra Leonean time), the Papal Nuncio, His Excellency Miroslaw Adamczyk, pointed out the patient work of Fr. Paganelli who “preserved the Church in Makeni from even greater disorder and lessened the suffering of the people of God still deprived of its Shepherd.”
On January 7, 2012, Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of then Makeni Bishop Giorgio Biguzzi who has reached the age limit of 75. Bishop Henry Aruna, of the Diocese of Kenema, in the southeast of Sierra Leone, was named to succeed him, but he was not able to make his entry to the Diocese. Pope Francis appointed him auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Kenema.
Makeni started as an Apostolic Prefecture in 1952. It became a Diocese in 1962. As of 2014 statistics, the Diocese of Makeni has 25 parishes.
Bishop-elect Paganelli was born on December 24, 1956. He entered the Theological Xaverian School in Parma, Italy, where he completed his philosophy and theology (1975-1981). He was ordained a priest on December 25, 1980 in Parma. After ordination, he spent 22 years as a missionary in Mexico before going to Sierra Leone in 2005. After learning English in London for almost a year (2004-2005), he hopped to Sierra Leone where he served as assistant parish priest in Madina (Diocese of Makeni, 2006-07), regional superior of the Xaverians of Sierra Leone (2007), and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Makeni (2012).
The two parishes administered by the Recoletos, namely, Our Lady of Sierra Leone Parish in Kamabai and St. Paul Parish in Kamalo, belong to the Diocese of Makeni.
Fray Jose Ernil F. Almayo, OAR
Chairman, Commission on Communications- Recoletos