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Addio a Don De Coppi, anima di “World and Mission”

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Addio a Don De Coppi, anima di “World and Mission”
In the house of elderly missionaries in Rancio di Lecco, Father Paolo De Coppi, a missionary in Brazil from 1961 until last year, died at the age of 88. A land that has been reported with passion for many years in the Portuguese edition of our magazine and in many other means of communication. The memory of Andrea Guerra, a layman from the Alp who met him during his service in San Paolo

I met Father Paolo De Coppi in Brazil. Ibiporã, one of PIME’s missions, was our “good retirement”: the house of the elderly fathers was a refuge from the chaos of São Paulo. Chiara and Matilde (and then Samuele) used to travel to the State of Paranà to renew documents, to stay a few days in Ibiporã and recharge our batteries. The heat, the greenery, the silence, the prayer shared with the fathers, their smiles, their reflections.

And their stories: the days we spent in Ibiporã were also a kind of blast from the past, a journey through the history of PIME in Brazil. One of those who lent himself more easily to stories was Father Paolo, or Paulo, as he had been called for the past 50 years. His smile also brought joy to my daughter Matilde, whom he called “my friend”. Tall, bearded, white: his memory left him more and more each time we returned to visit him and his brothers, but not his desire to do and undo.

He always asked us what we were doing in São Paulo and when he found out I was collaborating with World and Mission, then his smile widened even more. Because Father Paulo was one of the fathers of the magazine of the institute in Brazil. He founded it, he made it grow, he trained entire generations of young people to “write” about the mission, to tell of God’s gift for their brothers and sisters. Not only World and Mission: over the years in Florianopolis, in southern Brazil, Father Paulo founded several magazines including also Transcend e Young Missionto support the animation work with the more specific missionary journalism, of which PIME has taught all over the world.

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He spoke to me, he spoke to us about the newspapers, the young people, the projects, about that time when, at the age of 70, he founded a web radio (yes, a web radio), because he understood that it could be another means of reaching even more people, to radiate more the Word and the love of the Father.

On 5 February, at the age of 88, he died in Italy, in the Rancio house, where he had been for about a year, after leaving “his” Brazil. Who had traveled far and wide, from North to South. When we began our mission in São Paulo as a missionary family from the Alp, we bought what had been his car: for years he had been behind the wheel, he had traveled for thousands of km, crossed borders, with the trunk full of newspapers, magazines, books. Let us pray for him, for the people who mourn for him in Brazil, for his confreres, happy to have known him and to have seen with our own eyes some of those good fruits which he was a sower for years.

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