VERY REV. FR. JOHN MARENGONI, MCCJ
1. EARLY LIFE
Very Rev. Fr. John Marengoni MCCJ, was born on January 18, 1922 at Trezzano Rosa in Milano-Italy. His parents were Marengoni Joseph (Guiseppe) and Casati Adela. He was baptized in his parish of birth. He did his elementary and secondary school studies in his native village of Trezzano Rosa in Milano
He joined the Comboni Missionaries as Postulant on October 7, 1936, after which, he entered the Novitiate at Venegono, at the end of which, he took the first vows in 1940. On October 7, 1945, he took his perpetual vows. He attended the scholasticate in Verona, Rome, Rebbio and again in Rome, where he did specialist studies. Ordained priest in April 20, 1946. He obtained a doctorate in Theology and later taught at Comboni Seminary in Italy. He worked as formator and professor at Rebbio Seminary.
3. EXPERIENCE AND FOUNDATIONS
In 1951 he was sent to England to study English in preparation for the Sudanese Mission, where he would work for 12 years (1952-1964): first at Rejaf in the Diocese of Juba-Southern Sudan and Kadulé missions and then at Okaru as rector of the seminary. After a year as superior of the scholasticate at Venegono, in Italy, he left for Uganda where he worked at Gulu cathedral parish. In 1968 he went to Moroto where he worked for thirteen years, first as formator and then as Superior General of the Apostles of Jesus. Fr. Giovanni continued in this post (1978-1983) also when the Institute was transferred to Nairobi (Langata), in Kenya. There he spent his life bringing to maturity three African Institutes: The Apostles of Jesus, The Evangelising Sisters and the Contemplative Evangelisers. Except for a sabbatical year in Rome (1985-1986), Fr. Giovanni lived for sixteen years at Rongai, in Kenya (1988-2004). After a year of medical treatment in Milan, he returned to the Provincial House in Nairobi. In November 2006 he was admitted to the C.A.A. at Milan where he died on 27 July, 2007, at the age of 85.
It is not easy to write about Fr. Giovanni. In him one finds a person of extraordinary stature. He had a multifaceted and often contradictory personality. Fr. Giovanni had the charism of the founder and formator of consecrated persons (priesthood and religious life).
In 1968, at Moroto (Uganda), he founded the Pious Association of the Apostles of Jesus, approved by Bishop Sisto Mazzoldi, then the ordinary of the diocese of Moroto. In 1986, at Rongai, in the diocese of Nakuru, Kenya, he founded the Pious Association of the Contemplative Evangelizers of the Heart of Jesus, a semi-enclosed association. Bishop Raphael Ndingi, then ordinary of the diocese of Nakuru, issued the decree establishing that Association in his diocese. Fr. Giovanni would have liked to have started the Pious Association of the Contemplative Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, but because of his advanced age, his religious superiors persuaded him not to do so. He may rightly be regarded as the co-founder, with Bishop Mazzoldi, of the Evangelizing Sisters of Mary for whom Fr. Giovanni wrote the Rules and assisted for many years in their religious, spiritual and missionary development.
What made Fr. Giovanni suffer most of all in his work as a founder was the fact that, on many occasions, he did not feel the support of his direct collaborators and superiors, from whom he expected greater sympathy. On the few occasions when I heard him speak of his trials, he always sought to excuse those who made him suffer saying: “Who knows how holy that person is in the sight of God?” As he transmitted his charism to the above-mentioned groups, one could perceive the missionary zeal which animated his entire life.
When he was free from his commitments as a founder, he willingly accepted direct apostolate in the parishes and in other religious Institutes, giving retreats, courses of spiritual formation, conferences, celebrating the sacraments, etc. His preaching was much appreciated since it was an expression of his deep faith and his broad theological and spiritual preparation. Those close to him for many years can testify that, when preparing an important sermon, Fr. Giovanni spent prolonged hours even by nights before the Blessed Sacrament.
To those who did know him well, he may have appeared as a man who was totally sure of himself but Fr. Giovanni, before every important decision, prayed a lot, asked for many prayers and sought the advice of those around him. Only then did he feel free to take the decision which seemed to him to be God’s will, even if he knew such a decision would cause him great suffering. For Fr. Giovanni, the important thing was to discover and to decide according to the will of God. As a formator, Fr. Giovanni did not hide his preference for the methods of the past, tried and tested by the experience of the saints.
He was not easily moved by systems which amounted to little more than fine words. He inculcated the spirit of prayer, the life of sacrifice and fidelity to religious duties with the frequent conferences he gave to his candidates, but most of all he taught by the example of his daily life. He required of others what he himself already practiced. He was very patient with the many human failings of his candidates and explained this by saying that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. When in authority, he took his role as superior very seriously. When free of such obligations, he spoke pleasantly and engaged in interesting conversation.
4. FOND MEMORY OF OUR FOUNDERS
The late Rev. Fr. John Marengoni, MCCJ is remembered as:
- A man who had great desire to see that all the members of the Congregations he founded, were well informed about the Charism of their Institute and live according to it.
- A man dedicated to Evangelization.
- A man of fidelity to the Church.
- A man of fidelity to the Vows.
- A man of sacrifice.
- A man of zeal for the Mission.
- A man of Prayer.
- A man of Humility.
- A man fully obedient to the Magisterium and his Superiors.
- A man of Courage.
- A man ready to take risks for will of God.
- A man trusting in God's providence.
- A man who loved and cared for Vocations.
- A man of Faith.
- A man so conscious of Time.
- A man full of Patience.
- A man who was a committed and hard working.
- A man of Great Generosity.