On April 15-16, 2024, the friars of the Italian Province of the Immaculate Conception (Sicily-Calabria) conducted a Fraternal Assembly under the title: “For a Present That Has a Future: Meeting with an ‘Open Heart.’” The Minister Provincial, Friar Gaspare LA BARBERA, convened the Assembly at the Kolbe Center in Carini, near Palermo (Sicily), Italy.

Most of the friars from the friaries in Calabria and Sicily attended, as well as the members of the Province who serve at other friaries in the Order. This Fraternal Assembly marks the first steps that will lead the Province towards the celebration of its first Ordinary Chapter since it was created by the unification of the Custody of Calabria and the Province of Sicily.
On Monday morning, April 15, the Assembly got underway with periods of reflection, prayer, celebration, group workshops and moments of fraternity.
Friar Ugo SARTORIO led a reflection online from the Arcella Friary in Padua. Friar Emil KUMKA also attended online. He was designated by the Minister General to conduct a canonical visitation to the Province as it prepares for its first Chapter next year.
Friar Ugo began his reflection with the doubly eloquent image of an open heart, which taught the friars how to best experience the Assembly and make their preparatory journey towards the Provincial Chapter. The reflection also pointed out the delicacy of the journey and the risks involved, just as when one undergoes open heart surgery, a procedure which requires careful preparation to avoid complications.
Thus, the Assembly formed a kind of construction site, one that was always open, so as to build a new bridge that will help the friars cross the uncertain and complex sea of the present, while treasuring the past in order to reach the shore of the future. It is a project that requires common commitment, prayer, creativity, hope, faith, and more.
Friar Ugo offered many insights taken from the Magisterium of Pope Francis, especially his Evangelii Gaudium. Friar Ugo focused on four key points of the pope’s apostolic exhortation: Time is greater than space; unity prevails over conflict; realities are more important than ideas; and, the whole is greater than the part.
During the group workshops, the friars began the process of building the future, or, as Friar Ugo put it: a process of “thinking about the future without being beaten by it,” a process of working constructively together.
The friars were very glad to spend this reflective and fraternal time together, and to start a journey toward a future, not of suffering, but of welcoming the promptings of the Spirit; to build a tomorrow based on mutual trust and hope, in the awareness that the Lord calls us to actively work with him in the present, certain that these first steps taken in the dark of night will soon lead to the light of dawn, and a new day made by the Lord.

Friar Rosario TERRANOVA, Provincial Secretary