Bossi off to Payao to bid parish farewell

Bossi off to Payao to bid parish farewell
By Julie Alipala
Mindanao Bureau
Last updated 02:49pm (Mla time) 07/25/2007

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Father Giancarlo Bossi appeared relaxed as he casually walked around the grassy areas of Euntes Asian Center in Barangay (village) Sinunuc here on Wednesday.


But the priest confided that deep inside him, he felt bad and sad because his trip to Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay was more of a farewell than a reunion.


“[I am sad] because I will be going back to say goodbye,” Bossi said as he prepared for the six-hour trip to Payao.


But Bossi said that he would not let his parishioners see his emotions although “I am going to miss them a lot.”


For the 57-year-old priest, “Father Giant” to his parishioners and people of other faiths in Payao, the place has been so close to his heart, having spent more than three decades of his missionary work there.


Bossi said once he would leave Payao Thursday, the prospects of his return remained uncertain.


He said he wanted to continue serving the people of Payao but there were people who told him that the place “was no longer safe for me.”


Prior to his kidnapping on June 10, Bossi said two of his siblings were planning for a vacation in Payao in August.


But that would not be realized soon either, he said.


“Kaya lang, very sayang, very sayang talaga [Only, what a waste, what a real waste],” Bossi said in a mixture of English and Visayan.


Bossi said he was going to miss the people of Payao, who did not only see him as their priest, but also as their big father.


He said among those he would miss most would be his parishioners, who helped build the San Pablo Parish Church with their bare hands. Bossi started the parish in the 1970s.


Asked what he expected to do in Payao during his brief visit starting Wednesday, Bossi said he would sleep once more in his room in the parish’s convent, and then join the “big day” on Thursday when his parishioners prepared for him a homecoming celebration of sorts.


Aside from a “flood” of spaghetti, his parishioners along with local government officials, have prepared a caravan for the returning priest.


When the activities are over, Bossi said he would fly back to his hometown in Italy “to join his family.”


“I will do then most of my reflection together with my family,” he said.


Bossi accepted that he has been trying to find answers to his ordeal, which he said had “biblical signs.”


He said on the day he was kidnapped, it was the Feast of the Blood of Christ or Corpus Christi.


“… I was kept inside the woods for 40 days and 40 nights. And I was released on the birthday of my mother [Amalia], that is why I asked my brother Marcello and sister Pinuccia the meaning of it and I need time to sit together [with them] and think together to find out the meaning of it,” he said.


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