On 21 February the funeral of Fr. Marcello Mencuccini was celebrated. He died in his community of Castel d’Azzano on 19 February. He leaves behind happy memories of the testimony of a missionary well identified with his Comboni vocation.
In his homily, Fr. Renzo Piazza, the community superior, remembered him as follows: “Marcello died at the beginning of Lent, on the day when the reading at Mass said: ‘Come to me you blessed of my father. Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world for … I was sick and you visited me’. The earthly conclusion of the life of Fr. Marcello was lived out, perhaps unconsciously, in this context of beatitude and blessing. Our elderly confreres created around a dying confrere a small ‘journey of communion’ according to what we chose as our programme for this sex-year period”.
Fr. Marcello was born in Rome on 4 May, 1932. After the novitiate at Gozzano where he took first vows on 9 September 1957, and the scholasticate in Venegono where, on 9 September 1960 he took perpetual vows, he was ordained priest on 18 March 1961.
Little less than a year later he was assigned to the province of Brazil do Sul where he spent fifteen years, first at São Paulo to study the language and then in different communities: first in the parish of São Mateus, then as formator in the seminary of São Gabriel da Palha, then at Vinhatico, Rio de Janeiro, Jerónimo Monteiro, Nova Venécia, again in São Gabriel da Palha, São Mateus, Taguatinga and Campo Erê. He occupied different posts but mostly in missionary animation, as a formator, teacher and curate. “His first commitment – writes Fr. Pietro Bracelli – was that of curate at the parish of São Mateus where he worked with Fr. Egidio Melzani. The two got on well together both in the work and in daily life, so much so that they were called the two brother saints”.
In 1979 he was called to Rome as Parish priest of the chapel of the General Curia; he then went to the Verona Mother House as vocations promoter and then went back to Rome to work in missionary animation at the ACSE.
In 1988 he was appointed to Portugal and assigned to the community of Viseu, again in missionary animation, an experience that lasted a year and a half, considered by Fr. Marcello as rather tiresome.
On 28 October 1989, Fr. Francesco Pierli, the Superior General, wrote to him appointing him to the province of Italy: “I am aware that this letter will find you in deep spiritual and physical anguish due to the difficulties you encountered during your months in Portugal. I am happy to say the people were fond of you and appreciated your work … Your presence was positive”. From then on, Fr. Mencuccini passed the rest of his life in Italy.
“He never sought great works beyond him – wrote a confrere who lived with him in Brazil during the years of his missionary youth – but lived a simple life of availability and service, bringing serenity and happiness to those living with him. He was not creative but did simply what he had to do. He helped in community and was always liked to serve; he was completely honest, attached to Rome, his native city and was happy to do his duty. His presence was one of serenity”.
Fr. Marcello was a playful character and loved to tell jokes to keep people happy. He also liked to write and we have some poems of his. He was deeply attached to the Institute and to the superiors to whom he often wrote long letters, in his desire to keep them abreast of his activities, his spiritual journey and his life, in obedience and seeking harmony.
“Towards the end of his life he became scrupulous – Fr. Renzo said in his homily – he fell prey to certain fears, restlessness and an exaggerated dread of making a mistake or committing sin that haunted him and filled him with anguish. He showed no fear of illness, suffering or the approach of death but was afraid of offending God and losing his friendship. Gentleness, tact, the spirit of service and gratitude were the attitudes he adopted even in his final years spent at the Mother House and at Castel d’Azzano. He died still attached to Comboni and the Blessed Virgin Mary”.