Friendship pact between Chieri and Alí Terme

Chieri (Italy). From 14 to 19 July 2019, a delegation of 12 students from the CIOFS FP Professional Training Center of St. Teresa Institute in the Province of Mary Help of Christians (IPI), professor Nicoletta Magliacane, and the Center Director, Sr. Monica Roncari went to Alí Terme, a town in Sicily in the province of Messina, overlooking the sea, facing Calabria.

The aim of this visit was to establish an initial relationship with this land that hosts the mortal remains of Maddalena Caterina Morano of Chieri, a Salesian Sister who died in the concept of holiness and was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II. They signed a pact of friendship with the local Youth Center to enhance the cultural and historical wealth of the two cities.

The young people of Chieri were able to appreciate the clarity of the sea in front of Mary Help of Christians Institute where they were staying, the flavor of the local cuisine, the enthusiastic transmission by the citizens of their civil and religious traditions, and above all, the hospitality of the Sicilians, a people with a warm and generous heart.

The days in Sicily were spent between cultural visits and encountering the people. The Chieri group was able to enjoy the views and history of Fiumedinisi, Roccalumera, and its Literary Park dedicated to Salvatore Quasimodo, Taormina, Savoca, a village counted among the most beautiful in Italy and set of the Francis Ford Coppola film ‘The Godfather’, and of course, Alí Terme. The students of the Chieri CFP were also able to participate in professional activities such as the Sicilian cooking workshop, the pizzeria workshop, and the bakery workshop during which they had a lesson on the bread sticks stolen from the children of Alì Terme kindergarten, producing together the Chieresi specialty.

On the evening of 18 July, in the presence of the local Mayor, Carlo Agatino Giaquinta, and the Provincial of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sister Maria Pisciotta, the friendship pact was signed between the CIOFS FP of Chieri and the Oratory of Alí Terme , the first step towards a twinning between the two cities. In the name of the Mayor of Chieri, the young Chieresi offered Alessandro Sicchiero, a reproduction of the ancient city and a pewter saucer representing the Arch, together with some publications on Chieri and its illustrious citizens (among them Maddalena Morano) together with the local products, rubatà and Freisa wine, accompanied by an address from the First Citizen. It was a rich and unforgettable experience. Now the young Chieresi await the visit of their Sicilian friends, to make their city known and appreciated from a cultural, enogastronomical, and spiritual point of view because it is a land frequented by saints such as St. Louis Gonzaga, Don Bosco, Cottolengo, and, of course, Maddalena Morano.

Resonance of the participants

“I think the best part of every trip is the people you meet, beyond the breathtaking landscapes - says Martina Brunero Manera, one of the participants. What differentiates a beautiful journey from an unforgettable journey are the people we meet during the journey, those with whom we share emotions, sadness, problems, joys or even just a dinner! From this trip I take home the fact that, like Maddalena Morano, each of us should give more without always demanding something in return, be more selfless without too many ‘ifs’ and too many ‘buts’.”

Giada Cardili dwells on her personal growth: "From this experience I have gathered a greater awareness of myself. I realized that I can stay away from home and get by on my own. I made my first long journey by train and took my first ferry ride. I visited Taormina which was the most beautiful place I've ever seen”.

Nicoletta Magliacane, professor, adds, “I hold in my heart the tenacity of Mother Morano who knew how to do great things starting from a small church on the sea so far from her land. I hope to have even a modicum of her educational wisdom”.

Marika Lancini concludes: “I carry in my heart the happiness and welcome of the young people and the Sisters of Alì Terme, who made us feel at ease and welcome. I bring with me all the beautiful places we visited, the stories of the different areas, the beach, and the sea as well as the shared moments, and all the beautiful experiences we had".

Blessed Maddalena Morano

She was born in Chieri on 15 November 1847 into a modest family, although she was a descendant of a noble house.

After moving with her family to Buttigliera d'Asti, she was orphaned at the age of eight and began working at home as a weaver, perhaps one of the few jobs the girls of that time could devote themselves to.

A relative who was a priest, started her studies by giving her the first lessons of Italian grammar. When she reached the age of 14, the local parish priest gave her the task to take care of the kindergarten despite her young age. Continuing her studies, she received the diploma to teach in the elementary schools.

Meanwhile in that province, the new Salesian Institute founded by the dynamic priest John Bosco was establishing itself. Magdalene felt the vocation to the religious life and asked him for advice. Don Bosco directed her to his collaborator Fr. John Cagliero who invited her to enter the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. She joined them and made her novitiate. On September 4, 1879, at the age of 32, she made her religious profession.

Due to her learning and educational ability, she soon emerged among the Sisters and she held various positions of responsibility. Don Bosco chose her for a mission that, for the period, was titanic: going to Sicily to build a network of oratories, workshops, schools for girls.

The Risorgimento and the Unification of Italy presented a very high cost in social, economic, and ethical terms. Sicily is in turmoil, the crisis of values ??and political hostility towards the clergy are at their peak. A woman, a Piedmontese, is sent practically alone, to carry out her apostolate: the initial climate could hardly have been more hostile. The necessary qualifications recognized by the government put Morano in a safe place: her schools would be recognized. The great intuition of this woman will be in dialoguing with the Sicilian female universe with only the weapons of prayer, work, consecration to the well-being of the children…from girls to mothers, from mothers to families, from families to the whole community.

Her activity became prodigious and surprising. In 26 years she founded 19 houses, 12 oratories, 6 schools, 5 kindergartens, 11 workshops, 4 boarding schools, 3 schools of religion, and aroused the admiration of all, including ecclesiastical authorities and hierarchies. Of her it was said: "She is a great woman, she is an extraordinary woman".

Sister Morano had an uninterrupted union with God, a desire for holiness, and a desire for immense action. She died in Catania on 26 March 1908 at the age of 61.

The Salesian Apostle of Sicily was beatified in Catania on 5 November 1994 by Pope John Paul II.

Her mortal remains rest in Alí Terme, her ‘home of the heart’.

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