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L'Osservatore Romano

St. Mary’s Parish in Setteville, Rome, Is Ready to Receive Pope Francis

On Sunday, Pontiff Will Bring Comfort to the Assistant-Parish Priest, Father Giuseppe Berardino, Seriously Ill with Sclerosis, Hear Confessions of 4 Penitents, Meet With Sick

The news was received “with surprise and emotion” by the community. “We didn’t expect it,” said Father Luigi Tedoldi , known to all as Father Gino, who has been the parish priest of Saint Mary’s at Setteville since 1996 and who on Sunday, January 15 at around 3:30 pm, will receive Pope Francis (the departure from the Vatican is foreseen at 3:00 pm) in the parish of via Ludovico Muratori. With him will be the Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini, the Auxiliary Bishop of the northern sector, Monsignor Guerino Di Tora, the Assistant Parish Priest Father Leonel Alejandro Torres Lara and parish priests of the 11th Prefecture.

It is an extraordinary visit desired by the Holy Father to bring support and comfort to the Assistant Parish Priest, Father Giuseppe Berardino, 47, seriously ill for the past two years with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Pope Francis will hear the confession of four penitents – an adult, a youth and a couple – and will meet the sick of the parish, the pastoral workers, some forty couples whose children were baptized in 2016, and 220 young people, between the ages of 13 and 18, belonging to scout and post Confirmation groups. At 5:30 pm, the Holy Father will preside over a Mass, which will be animated by the parish choir.

Emotion betrays Father Gino when speaking of Father Giuseppe, whom he regards “as a son,” so much so that when he was diagnosed with sclerosis, he wanted him to stay at home with him. Father Giuseppe arrived in the parish of Setteville almost 14 years ago, when he was a seminarian at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary. Here he received his Diaconal Ordination and then, on May 11, 2003, his Priestly Ordination. His illness manifested itself a little over two years ago. “It all began with a fall in a summer camp for boys,” explained the parish priest. “In two months he was completely paralyzed, so much so that he could not benefit from a computer to communicate through eye movements. At the Gemelli Polyclinic they told me that they had never seen such a rapid and violent case.” So greatly loved is he by the community, particularly the young that he looked after, that on the weekends, when the nurse has the day off, some 20 couples alternate to take care of him. “They are very grateful in their relations with him and decided to be at his side also on the Christmas weekend,” he said.

Saint Mary’s parish at Setteville, erected in 1973, has some 6,000 inhabitants and of these more than 20% take an active part in parish life. In the main they are young, numerous families. “We even have families with seven children; it is difficult to find a one-child family in this community and in my catecheses I always say that relations are not born of friends, that a child does not form his character with friendships but with a brother,” affirmed Father Gino.

The parish boasts an Oratory, where more formative activity takes place than recreational, and which is assiduously frequented by 130 youngsters between the age of 13 and 18, and animated by some 20 young couples. Present also is an Agesci scout group made up of some 100 youngsters. In addition, there are eight Neo-Catechumenal communities, the Order of the Most Holy Trinity, and a Padre Pio Prayer Group. Eleven married couples prepare families for their children’s Baptism.

Caritas is also very active there: “This year extraordinarily 37,000 euros were spent because we had cases of grave indigence and we intervened if it was necessary to pay a bill or if a family was unable to cope with the mortgage payment. When I am unable to intervene on my own, I never take up a collection – he stressed – there is always someone willing to offer his help to someone in difficulty.”

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