The Province of Sicily
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On October 20, 2022 at the Shrine of Gibilmanna, the General Minister erected the Province of the Immaculate Conception of the Capuchin Friars Minor of Sicily, which was born from the unification of the three Sicilian Provinces: Messina, Palermo, Syracuse. The journey, which led to this momentous event unfolded after a few years of preparation, specifically starting from 2019, with meetings between the provincial superiors, the General Curia, and the creation of commissions for animation in the provinces that addressed various aspects of our life; there were also more specific meetings between friars of all three provinces, as well as an effort toward increasing collaboration, for example in formation.
The Capuchins have been present in Sicily since the dawn of the Order, and they were immediately and enthusiastically appreciated and accepted by the people. Their presence expanded rapidly until in 1571 it became necessary to subdivide the island into three custodies to better guarantee the animation and government of the local fraternities; three years later, these became provinces (under the leadership of Br. Girolamo da Montefiore), and they have continued as such until this day.
At the peak of the Capuchin expansion (c. 1761) there were a total of 2,980 religious distributed between 110 friaries. The political events of the 19th century with the suppression of the mendicant orders and other factors marked a numerical decline of the friars that remained relentless until this day, despite a sizable number of friars that still populate the territory.
The Order here has been impressively fruitful through an uninterrupted, multifaceted, and widespread activity among the people in preaching, social work, outreach to all levels of “strata” in the population, and in support of the Third Order and its local confraternities. Many distinguished brothers – saints, blesseds, venerables, servants of God – have lived in our friaries here; among them were St. Felix of Nicosia and St. Bernard of Corleone.
The activities of the Sicilian friars have extended beyond their regional borders: we find them engaged in many missions, including Malta, Congo, Madagascar, Turkey, Brazil, Yemen, Greece, Colombia, United Arab Emirates, India ... initiating the presence of the Order in some of these territories and assisting them until they grew to become autonomous circumscriptions, while also working in support of other missionary presences.
On the day of the erection of the new province, the new superiors were also appointed:
Other Italian Capuchins were extensively involved in the event, notably General Councilor Br. Francesco Neri and Br. Gianpaolo Lacerenza, the President of the Italian Conference (CIMPCap); there were also numerous provincial ministers and many other friars, who together thanked the Lord and entrusted the future of this new province to Saints Felix of Nicosia and Bernard of Corleone.
Photo gallery: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAbYvw