On January 25, 2021, Friar Angelo PANZICA, 81, a missionary in Zambia for fifty-two years, returned to the House of the Father.
Friar Angelo was born in Marianopoli, Italy, on August 22, 1939. He made his simple profession on October 4, 1958, his solemn profession on September 30, 1962, and was ordained a priest on December 18, 1965. He was a member of the Province of St. Agatha and St. Lucy in Italy (Sicily) and was transferred in perpetuity to the Province of the Franciscan Protomartyrs in Zambia. The first two years of his priesthood were dedicated to pastoral activity at the Sacro Cuore Church in Palermo (Sicily). Showing a marked disposition for altruism and love for the poor and destitute, he soon expressed to his superiors his desire to go on a mission. Thus, he was sent to England to perfect his English and on December 18, 1969, he left for Zambia, joining two other confreres from Sicily, Friars Leone CUSIMANO and Giuseppe SCOMA.
During his many years in Zambia, he served as Guardian and Pastor in the communities of Kililabombwe, Kitwe, Makeni, Lusaka and Ibenga, and paid particular attention to doing pastoral ministry in the villages and forest areas. His most intensive service took place from 1975 to 1993, at the Friary of St. Francis of Assisi in Lusaka. There, he devoted himself tirelessly to pastoral ministry and built a large church dedicated to the Regina Pacis, whose bells were blessed by St. Pope John Paul II. From 1996 to 2021, he served at the St. Theresa Mission in Ibenga where he built a retreat house, an agricultural farm and founded a kindergarten to assist orphaned children in the various villages. In recalling Friar Angelo, Friar Anselmo BONFIGLI, his mission companion for five years in Makeni, wrote, “Because of his enterprising and extremely dynamic character and his incomparable versatility in carrying out projects, he made an impact with his energy and strong missionary impulse, building vibrant communities, churches and chapels. He constructed houses for the poor in many villages. He animated choirs, launched recreational initiatives and established social, charitable and educational works.”
Two years ago, Friar Angelo suffered a stroke, which reduced his pastoral activities. After recently contracting Covid-19, he required oxygen and had to be hospitalized. He died in his room at the friary in Ibenga.
During his fifty-two years of missionary service, Friar Angelo received various honors from the Zambian government for his many charitable works benefitting the people of Zambia.
Friar Angelo’s funeral was held on January 27, with the Minister Provincial of Zambia, Friar Ferena LAMBE, presiding. His body was buried at the friary cemetery in Ibenga, next to the tomb of Servant of God, Bishop Francesco Mazzieri, OFM Conv.
In 2011, Friar Angelo recounted his intense missionary activity in a book entitled “C’era una volta…e c’è ancora” [Once Upon a Time, There Was…and Still Is]. The book contains countless experiences, stories and anecdotes from his life lived among the people.
Friar Paolo FIASCONARO, Director of the Franciscan Missionary Center