On August 2, 2022, the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels (Portiuncula), the Province of St. Agatha and St. Lucy in Italy (Sicily) inaugurated the Nostra Signora degli Angeli House in Palermo, Sicily. The new facility is a home for elderly friars and those needing special care.
Eight hundred years ago, St. Francis, his friars, and the people of Assisi, received a miraculous gift of mercy and grace, at the Portiuncula. The little church, which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary Queen of Angels and much loved by St. Francis and all the friars, came to represent the cradle of the Minors. Now it seems the gift of the Portiuncula is being repeated in Sicily.
The erection of the Nostra Signora degli Angeli House was first proposed by the Minister Provincial, Friar Gaspare LA BARBERA, at the 2017 Ordinary Provincial Chapter. The Capitulars unanimously approved the proposal. Eventually, the project was made possible through a generous financial contribution by the Province of Our Lady of the Angels in the USA [OLA].
Friar James MCCURRY, the former Minister Provincial of OLA, and Friar Jude WINKLER, the Assistant General for the Conventual Franciscan Federation (CFF), were both present at the inauguration, representing the OLA Province.
There is an air of amazement and wonder in the Province of Sicily at having experienced the providence of God. The Minister Provincial of Sicily described this event as, “a page of Franciscan history that transcends borders and horizons, written by the Friars Minor Conventual of the Province of Our Lady of the Angels in the USA who, with their donation, have made possible the realization of this place where fraternal welcome is expressed through care for others.”
Friar James MCCURRY presided over the Mass for the inauguration, which was attended by many friars of the Province of Sicily, including those who recently moved into the new House. Numerous faithful participated as well. After the Mass, the new House was blessed and a commemorative plaque was unveiled. The event concluded with a joyful, fraternal agape meal.
Friar James defined the new House as the “Portiuncula of Palermo.” He described the residents of the House as a “joyful community of friars” who implore the grace and mercy of God and who remind us of the early friars who first gathered around the Portiuncula in Assisi. The current residents of the House are Friars Guglielmo BARBASSO, Tommaso GAUDIO, Pietro Marco ROMA, Stefano LUPO, Antonio MILAZZO, Pasquale LIMA and Francesco CAMPAGNA (Carmelite). Citing the biographer Thomas of Celano, Friar James said that the friars living in this “new Portiuncula” are experiencing the same grace as the first friars did in the old one; it was a place where God “enlightened our hearts” and “kindled our wills” with the fire to “here praise God in cries of joy and praise with your whole heart.”
Friar James also reminded the friars living in the House that they have received the greatest mission and ministry of the Province, namely, to offer God their lives of prayer, simplicity, minority, and fraternity together with their own sufferings, so that this home might become the new “powerhouse” of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual in Sicily, a “magnet” that attracts new vocations to religious life and, as St. Maximilian Kolbe said, “the place where the most important part of the work is done.”
Friar Rosario TERRANOVA, Provincial Secretary