The Story of a Dream That Continues to Evolve 

On December 13, 2023, the Feast of St. Lucy, an official proclamation was made announcing the unification 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) into a new Jurisdiction, now canonically named the “Italian Province of the Immaculate Conception (Southern Italy).” The proclamation was made at the Pontifical Minor Basilica of San Francesco in Palermo (Sicily), Italy.

Those present at this important celebration included the Minister General, Friar Carlos A. TROVARELLI; the Procurator General, Friar Maurizio DI PAOLO; the Assistant General for the Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP), Friar Giovanni VOLTAN; the Minister Provincial of the Italian Province of St. Anthony of Padua (Northern Italy), Friar Roberto BRANDINELLI; the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Nicholas and St. Angelo in Italy (Puglia), Friar Daniele MAIORANO; the Delegate of the Minister Provincial for the Province of St. Paul the Apostle in Malta, Friar Allister AQUILINA; the Ministers Provincial of the Franciscan Families of Sicily; the Minister Provincial of the Secular Franciscan Order of Sicily; the friars of the new-born Province, who came from the friaries of Sicily and Calabria; friars from Rome and Assisi; the postulants of Southern Italy with their formation team; and many faithful.
There were two highlights during the day. One was a moving period of prayer. It began with a procession in which the friars carried special symbols, such as a floral arrangement offered to the Immaculate Conception, an image of the Rule of the Order and an icon of St. Francis. A candle was lit at the base of each item. This was followed by a brief greeting from the Minister Provincial of the new Jurisdiction, Friar Gaspare LA BARBERA, in which he stressed the importance of the event. The key moment was the proclamation by the Procurator General of the Decree implementing the unification of the two Jurisdictions under the name, the “Italian Province of the Immaculate Conception (Southern Italy).” The Minister General and the new Minister Provincial recited the prayer of entrustment before the image of the Immaculate Conception, thus handing over the new Province to the care of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The second highlight was the Mass presided over by the Minister General. In his homily, he focused on three points. The first, was the importance of being mindful of the titular saints of the two Jurisdictions, because they are witnesses who invite us Conventual friars to make our lives a profession of faith today. The second, was adopting the beatitudes as a life plan for the new Province (in reference to the Gospel of the day), as a way to help us bring about the Kingdom of heaven, here on earth. The third, was recalling our 800 years of Franciscan life, including in Sicily, times that were both glorious and difficult, underlining that, in keeping with the Gospel, any time is the right time to give witness to our faith and fraternity. He concluded his homily by reminding the friars of Sicily and Calabria that “we are not only celebrating the beginning of a new Jurisdiction, but we are hoping to carry out a new life plan, one filled with the light that illuminated the life of St. Lucy; one that is as authentic as that of St. Daniel and Companion Martyrs and as pure as the Immaculate Conception.”
The canonical name of the new Jurisdiction was chosen because of the strong Marian devotion present in both of the old Jurisdictions. Their devotion is certainly inherent in the Franciscan charism, but it also has those popular sensitivities typical of southern Italy and elsewhere.
The same is true of our local churches, with their lay congregations, confraternities, associations and Marian movements, entities which arose to express the people’s love and devotion to Mary and to defend the privilege of her Immaculate Conception.
With unification, we are aware that we are writing a new page in our history. At the same time, we are mindful of our eight-hundred year history. This history, in fact, represents the dream that St. Francis of Assisi passed on to his friars, a dream that they accepted and have continued to pass on through the ages.
The challenges of today’s world certainly force us to look at our reality. They invite us to make appropriate choices, which help us respond by constantly reformulating our Gospel dream of brotherhood in Christ.
This brotherhood is only possible if we live it with creative fidelity, as an authentic fraternity that knows how to renew itself.
This is why the General Chapter wanted to unite the two Jurisdictions, as part of a plan to make our friaries into fraternities, creating new boundaries and new rosters of personnel.
In this way, we continue the legacy of our Order as men who profess the Rule of Friar Francis and strive to move forward, living and embodying that dream that continues to evolve.

May the Lord, through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, bless the footsteps of this new Province entrusted to her protection, and fill it with every grace so that each friar may be able to follow in the footsteps of Christ and those of his Seraphic Father, St. Francis.

Friar Rosario TERRANOVA, Provincial Secretary