On Friday May 5, 2023, the friars of the Province of St. Agatha and St. Lucy in Italy (Sicily), and the Provincial Custody of St. Daniel and Companion Martyrs in Italy (Calabria), met at the San Francesco Friary in Palmi, Italy.
The Custos, Friar Giorgio TASSONE, and the community of friars and lay people in Palmi, gave the friars from the Province of Sicily a warm welcome. The friars from Sicily and some lay collaborators had set out early in the morning and arrived in Calabria by bus.
Once in Palmi, the Custos gave them a talk about the social and religious status of the city and the pastoral activities of the parish. Mass followed, presided over by the Custos. During the celebration, immediately after the homily, the friars renewed their vows.
At the end of the Mass, the Minister Provincial of Sicily, Friar Gaspare LA BARBERA, thanked the Custos and the friars of Calabria for their warm welcome and mentioned that choosing Palmi as the place to celebrate their Provincial Festival was a further step down the path toward the unification of the Jurisdictions of Sicily and Calabria. At the end of August 2023, they will form one Jurisdiction under the name, Province of the Immaculate Conception (Southern Italy).
Another important moment was when the Minister Provincial mentioned the friars who celebrate anniversaries this year, namely: Friar Salvatore LO CURCIO, the Vicar Provincial of Sicily who celebrated his 25th anniversary of priestly ordination on January 5; Friar Vincenzo MANGONE who celebrated his 60th anniversary of priestly ordination on February 17; Friars Fedele FIASCONARO and Augusto DRAGO who celebrated their 60th anniversary of priestly ordination on March 30; Friar Angelo SPARACINO who will celebrate his 60th anniversary of priestly ordination on September 1; Friar Antonio PARISI who will celebrate his 25th anniversary of religious profession on September 6; Friar Tommaso GAUDIO who will celebrate his 70th anniversary of religious profession on September 17; Friar Felice FIASCONARO who will celebrate his 60th anniversary of religious profession, also on September 17; and Friar Francesco CELESTINO who will celebrate his 25th anniversary of priestly ordination on December 29.
In the prayer of suffrage during the Mass, everyone prayed for the friars who had died in the last year, especially, Friars Antonio MILAZZO and Luigi BUTERA, and the mother of Friar Antonino ARENA. She had returned to the house of the Father only a few days earlier.
At the end of the Mass, Friar Gaspare LA BARBERA, on behalf of the whole Province, gave the Custody of Calabria a decorated ceramic plate, created in the tradition of the Palermo School, as a memento of the festival they spent together.
After lunch, the friars visited a building near the church which the Municipality of Palmi loaned to the parish for use as the “Madonna del Rosario” Social Center. There, various activities take place, including some liturgical events celebrated outdoors.
The day ended with a walk along the beautiful Ulivarella Waterfront, where one can see Sicily and the Aeolian Islands on the horizon. The panorama reminded everyone how very close Sicily and Calabria are, not just geographically but in their shared Franciscan spirit of fraternity.
Friar Rosario TERRANOVA, Provincial Secretary