I received today some sad news - the passing away of Anna Maria Bianchi (seen in the picture holding her niece Maria Eleonora) - one of my good friends from Maccio in Italy. She was the niece of Fr. Mario Bianchi, one of the Salesian missionaries in North-east India. She always had a special place in her heart for Shillong and the people of the North-east where her uncle had laboured so valiantly. She had fought a long battle with cancer for five years. Here is the letter sent to her relative Cristina Vimercati...
Thank you for so promptly informing me of the sad demise of dear Anna Maria.
My heartfelt sympathies to all of you her relatives and friends who will miss so much her kind and caring ways. I am sure the Lord will take her to Himself with great joy seeing that she was truly his messenger of peace and joy to people. She has gone home on the Feast of the Guardian Angels perhaps because she was sent as an angel, a messenger of God's love to all of us...maybe also to teach us to care for and to love one another.
As you mentioned she fought the good fight against cancer and she won the battle with her spirit of serenity and calmness in the midst of much pain and hardship. That can be considered a grace from the Lord who surely accompanied her in moments of discouragement and difficulty. The birth of Maria Eleanora and Giulia surely brought her great joy and we could consider that as the Lord's reward for all her sacrifice on behalf of your family.
I have benefited much from her kindness in the years I would come to Maccio (2002-2006). She was a great source of encouragement and a generous benefactor...She always had something interesting to say about the faith, about the Church and about the mission...I have been enriched in many ways by knowing her.
I will offer a special mass for her tomorrow - another wonderful feast when the Catholic Church recalls the Poverello of Assisi - Francesco - who transformed the Church by his simplicity and holiness. Anna Maria was so like him in many ways.
Please pass on my condolences and sympathies to Peppino and Alfonsina, and to all the members of your family. The people of Shillong have lost a great support on earth but I am sure Anna Maria will continue to help spiritually the work of the mission and the growth of the faith in North-east India.
With prayers and wishes in this moment of grief,
Don Matthew Coutinho sdb