Father Paolo Morlacchi, from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (pime), died suddenly in the early hours of August 24 at St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged in Sheung Shui, the New Territories, two days after his 80th birthday was celebrated at pime House in Clearwater Bay.
Born in Azzano S. Paolo, Bergamo, northern Italy, on 26 August 1936, he was ordained a priest for the diocese of Bergamo in 1961, but he worked in various areas after offering his services to a community administered by the Italian bishops which placed priests where clergy numbers were short.
In 1970, he entered pime and was assigned to Hong Kong, arriving the following year. After studying Cantonese he was sent to Saikung Sacred Heart parish.
In 1973, Father Morlacchi was involved in a serious road accident while riding his motorcycle, after which he underwent long periods of hospitalisation and numerous operations.
He then served with a generous heart in various parishes, including Rosary Church, Yuen Long, Saikung and Homantin.
In 1993, he was assigned to Lecco, Italy, where the institute runs a home for its aged and infirm members. While caring for his needy confrères, he found the time to pay regular visits to patients in local hospitals.
Back in Hong Kong in 1997, he was made assistant parish priest at Rosary Church, as well as chaplain to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He later continued his ministry to the sick at the Prince of Wales Hospital after he was transferred to St. Benedict’s in Shatin.
In May 2012, he suffered a major stroke. His condition remained serious and he was treated at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Shatin, before being transferred to the Canossa Hospital in the Mid-Levels.
This was followed by a period of convalescence in the beautiful environment of the pime home for the aged and infirm in Italy, where Father Morlacchi made a significant recovery.
A further blessing for him was the proximity of his big family, with whom he always maintained close ties, which certainly contributed to his recovery.
Father Morlacchi’s ambition was always to spend the remainder of his life among the people of Hong Kong and finally he was admitted as a resident to the St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged.
Although retired, he occasionally involved himself in outside ministry.
The pime missionaries in Hong Kong would like to offer their special thanks to the Sisters of the Poor in Sheung Shui and the medical staff of both the Prince of Wales and Canossa Hospitals, who nursed and looked after him.