Fr Matteo Revelli, a member of the Italian Province of the SMA, has worked for more than 20 years in Morocco, a predominantly Muslim country in northwest Africa. He sent a brief report to FIDES, the News Agency of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, about the reopening of mosques, churches, and temples in Morocco last month.
“The government has rewarded the discipline of the Moroccan population who, with patience and stoicism, faced a long lockdown. Places of worship, mosques, churches and temples, were able to welcome their faithful, including my parishioners, of whom 99% are students and workers from sub-Saharan Africa who came to Morocco for study or work.
Fr Matteo has been responsible for the parish of St Francis of Assisi in Fés [Rabat Archdiocese] for more than 13 years. “However”, he underlines, “there is still a lot of fear and the alert is high. Even during the distribution of the Eucharist I was amazed to see that many hesitated to queue to receive it”. “The bad memories of the epidemic are still alive”, concludes the missionary.
There are two diocese in Morocco: Tanger and Rabat, with a total estimated Christian population of 40,000 in a population of 36 million . Catholics are about 60% of the Christian population, most of them from outside Morocco, particularly students and migrant workers.
Two other SMA priests are also serving: Fr Bert Bonouvrie SMA [Dutch Province] is Parish Priest in St Anne’s parish, Agadir, and Fr Ladislas Penkala [Polish Province] is Parish Priest in St Bernard’s parish, El Jadida.
All three parishes staffed by the SMA have large student numbers from south of the Sahara.