On Saturday, October 28, 2023, Friar Carmelo MARIA professed his solemn vows into the hands of the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Agatha and St. Lucy in Italy (Sicily-Calabria), Friar Gaspare LA BARBERA. The event took place in the diocesan Shrine of Maria Santissima delle Grazie located in Montevago, Sicily, Italy. Those present at the engaging and well-attended Mass for this event included civil and military authorities as well as numerous faithful from Montevago, Santa Margherita di Belice, Sambuca, and Palermo, the city where Friar Carmelo was born and raised.

One’s solemn profession signifies his definitive commitment to live following Christ, in obedience, poverty and chastity, according to the Rule of the Friars Minor, following the example of Mary Immaculate through the intercession of St. Francis. It is realized in a context of fraternal life, through the mediation of the community. The Franciscan community itself made its presence and openness intensely felt throughout the celebration. In fact, there were many friars present, particularly friars from Sicily, Calabria and Assisi. The warm and moving embrace that each one gave Friar Carmelo, confirmed his definitive acceptance into the Order of Friars Minor Conventual.
At the end of the celebration, Friar Carmelo spoke about his path toward solemn profession, beginning in 2018, when he enrolled in the pre-postulancy program in Montevago. From there, he went through various stages of formation and completed his novitiate year. Friar Carmelo gave thanks to the Lord, who, in His infinite mercy, reached out to him and called him to His service. He thanked his family, the friars, particularly Friar Gaspare, and the Confraternity of Porto e Riporto [Port and Carry] di Maria Immacolata, of the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi in Palermo, of which he had been a member since he was a child. He also thanked the choir that sang during the Mass, which has been under his direction for the last few years. He then thanked the “Chiostro Aperto” [Open Cloister] Fraternity with whom he partners every day in carrying out evangelization projects. Finally, he thanked all those who helped and guided him on his journey. The back side of a souvenir holy card created for this event shows a passage from Psalm 27: “One thing I have asked of the Lord, this only I seek: To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” We wish that these words may find fulfillment in the life of our dear Friar Carmelo and in the lives of all of us who, with faith and emotion, witnessed an event of high spiritual value and touching humanity.