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Ecumenical History In Southern Italy

On Sunday, 10 April, at its Sunday service the congregation of Holy Cross, Palermo welcomed the Archbishop of Palermo, Monsignor Corado Lorefice. The current locum, Father Russell Ruffino, celebrated the Holy Eucharist; Archbishop Lorefice presided, preached the sermon and gave the final blessing. At the beginning of the service Father Pietro Magro, the Archdiocesan Director of Ecumenical Life, highlighted the significance of this service.

In his sermon the Archbishop with noticeable emotion called the event a sign of hope not only for the Church, but also for this City; he concluded with a statement of Pope Francis: “Today reality is greater than idea. Even the great theological and juridical ideas can separate us. But it is reality that unites us in Jesus Christ.”  

At the end of the service Father Ruffino called the event a celebration of all the things that unite us as one family in Christ; he also noted a “personal” relationship with Archbishop Lorefice; the Archbishop came to Palermo from the town of Modica in southeastern Sicily; that is where Father Ruffino’s father was from.  The wardens, Jacquie Matranga and William Ofori, presented the Archbishop the service program signed by the members and friends of Holy Cross.

In 1992 when the Archbishop Of Canterbury, George Carey and his wife paid a visit to Holy Cross, the then Archbishop of Palermo, Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo, joined them on that occasion, but the service on 10 April was a major ecumenical first. Attending the service were clergy and laity from local churches and Catholic religious. A contingent of the Knights Templar with their commander was also present. Attendance at the service was standing-room only---some 300 people.  Television news media and the press featured the event.

(Information from Fr Russell Ruffino)