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Biography

 

Fr. Luigi Faccenda was born August 24, 1920 in San Benedetto Val di Sambro, Bologna, a quaint village on the Italian Apennine Mountains, on. When he was 12 years old he entered the Seminary of the Conventual Franciscan Order in Faenza. Periods of precarious health conditions forced him to leave the seminary, and return home.

He made his temporary profession of vows in Assisi on August12, 1938, and his perpetual profession in Faenza in 1941. He was ordained a priest on May 18, 1944 in Fognano, a village not too far from Faenza where the local Bishop, Mgr. Battaglia had moved following dramatic war events. Later Fr. Faccenda wrote: “I still tremble upon remembering the day I celebrated my first Holy Mass in the chapel dedicated to the Immaculata in St. Francis Church in Faenza. No one was there, except the other priests ordained with me. Outside, the blast of bombs was the tragic background to our celebration.”

Since the very beginning of his priestly life, Fr. Faccenda desired to spend it in a missionary outreach that would take him to far away countries. He had always nourished a deep desire to bring the light of the faith and spread the joy of the Gospel message overseas, available to lay down his life as a martyr in a supreme witness to it.

His precarious health prevented Fr. Faccenda from fulfilling his dream in those terms. His superiors assigned him to spread the ideal and spirituality of St. Maximilian Kolbe by working for the “Militia of the Immaculata.”  In 1954, together with some young women from the MI Movement, Fr. Faccenda began the Institute,Fr. Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata.” His missionary dream was eventually coming true through these consecrated women who, captivated by St. Maximilian Kolbe’s passion “to lead all souls to God through the Immaculata,” would spread throughout Italy and across the ocean.

The Institute soon received the blessing and approval of the Cardinals Giacomo Lercaro, Antonio Poma, and Giacomo Biffi of the Archdiocese of Bologna, Italy.  In  1946, he began also a flourishing editorial activity with the publication of “Milizia Mariana”, a monthly publication of Marian spirituality and formation with a missionary orientation. It was addressed in a special way to families and youth. Besides this periodical, a few years later Fr. Luigi Faccenda established a publishing house – Edizioni dell’Immacolata (Immaculata Press). As the Institute grew and spread to Argentina, California, Bolivia, Luxembourg, Poland and Brazil, Father visited each of these missions, as often as his health would allow. He followed in prayer and suffering the development of each missionary and mission.

In 1988, it was approved to invite laity and clergy to be associated to the Institute as Fr. Kolbe Volunteers of the Immaculata.

In 1992, the Institute received the definitive approval of the Holy Father John Paul II as a Secular Institute of pontifical right. In his untiring missionary efforts, in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Maximilian Kolbe, Fr. Luigi Faccenda promoted many events and apostolic activities of evangelization imbued with the specific Marian spirituality.

With the approval of the Congregation for Catholic Education, on May 17, 1995, the Pontifical Theological Faculty “St. Bonaventure” in Rome, conferred the Honoris Causa Doctorate degree in Sacred Theology on Fr. Luigi Faccenda for his contribution to a deeper understanding and development of the Marian doctrine and thought of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

Later, the depth of this spirituality, together with his faith and courage, gave birth to another Family of consecrated life. On February 11, 1997, welcoming the invitation of his confrere, Fr. Sebastiano Quaglio, OFM Conv, Fr. Luigi Faccenda founded the male Institute of the “Fr. Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata” in Brazil.

During the summer of 2005, his precarious health conditions worsened. Feeling that his end was near, Fr. Luigi wrote: “I do not think of myself as a hulk or an old-fashioned man. I am living, not merely surviving. I am not a dried trunk. Rather, I am like a tree bursting with new foliage, branches, and fruits. I feel like enjoying a youthfulness that does not know the rules of aging. I am like a tree that gives life as it dies, and that thus keeps on living.” Sunday morning, October 9, 2005, while the liturgy was meditating on the nuptial banquet that God prepared for all His children, Fr. Luigi Faccenda entered eternity, sustained by the love and prayers of his confreres, the Fr. Kolbe Missionaries and Volunteers, MI members, priests, relatives, and friends.

PHOTOGALLERY - FATHER FACCENDA