Parish of Santa Maria Maggiore
(St. Mary Major)
via Dante 23/25 - 85010 Pignola (PZ)
Archdiocese of Potenza-Muro Lucano-Marsiconuovo
Don Antonio Laurita - Parish Priest
Parish office - via Dante 23
open workdays 9 to 11 a.m.
phone: 0039 0971 430008
TAX CODE: 96002180766
IBAN: IT 28 J 07601 04200 00013119854
Postal Current Account : 000013119854
11:00 MAIN CHURCH
11:30 PANTANO 18:30
S.ROCCO 18:30 (at Main Church from 3rd Sunday of May to 3rd Sunday of Sept.)
The Parish Priest is available daily for confession or interviews after each evening Mass
COMMEMORATION OF THE DEAD
As it happens everywhere, also in Pignola November the 1st and the 2nd have been the days dedicated to the memory of our deceased loved ones.
The inclement weather has not discouraged the great number of people that wanted to honor this recurrence, bringing flowers and candles to the graves of their relatives. It represents a time of reflection not only to rekindle the memory of those that are no more with us, but also a good opportunity to reflect on the Christian sense of the life, that never ceases to exist: death is just a change of it, a moment of transition from the earthly experience to the eternity of Heaven.
The highlight was the Holy Mass, celebrated in the little chapel that couldn’t contain all people, so many had to follow it from the outside.
Let’s close reporting the words by Pope Francis at the Rome War Cemetery:
“Today, thinking of the dead, preserving the memory of the dead and preserving hope, let us ask the Lord for peace, that people may no longer kill in wars. So many innocent dead, so many soldiers who leave their lives behind. But why is this? Wars are always a defeat, always. There is no total victory, no. Yes, one conquers the other, but beneath there is always the defeat of the price that is paid. Let us pray to the Lord for our departed, for everyone, for everyone: may the Lord receive them all. And let us also pray for the Lord to have pity on us and give us hope: the hope to go forward and to be able to find them all together with Him, when He calls us. So be it.”
Microgreen Magic: an ecological day with the "Verty4You" Erasmus project
From October 1 to 13 in the pleasant little town of Pignola there has been an unique opportunity to conjugate Europe, religion and nature. The Erasmus project “Verty4You” brought together students from around the world for an ecological adventure culminated in an unique event last October 11.
It has been jointly organized with the Parish of Pignola and its Cathechists, and resulted of a great interest for sustainable growth in mind and hear of the children that attended.
The Erasmus young people explained the term “microgreen” : these small green shoots have both nutritional and tasty qualities, and child learned that they can be cultivated also in tight spaces, thus opening the door to a sustainable and healthy future to preserve our planet, also considering that very few water and pesticides are used.
Moreover, they explained how people is today learning to grow vertically, transforming towns into green parks, and such ideas encouraged child to think to a moment when nature would thrive everywhere.
The whole community of Pignola showed its interest, not just children, demonstrating that faith and love for nature can work together, bridging the gap between generations in building a better world.
In conclusion, the Erasmus project "Verty4You" has promoted here like an explosion of ecological consciousness, encouraging adults and children to embrace the sustainable growth cause, and therefore this day will always be remembered as a symbol of hope for a bright and green future.
“Don’t be afraid”
This is something that often occurs in the sacred Scriptures. In fact, the last words that Jesus said to disciples at His Transfiguration were just “Don’t be afraid” (Mt 17,7).
As young people, you have experienced these days of joy. You have great dreams, but often fear that they may not come true; sometimes you think that you are not up to the challenge, which is a kind of pessimism that can overcome us at times.
As young people, you may be tempted at this time to lose heart, to think you fall short, or to disguise your pain with a smile. As young people, you want to change the world – and it is very good that you want to change the world – you want to work for justice and peace. You devote all your life’s energy and creativity to this, but it still seems insufficient. Yet, the Church and the world need you, the young, as much as the earth needs rain. To all of you, dear young people, who are the present and the future, yes to all of you, Jesus now says: “Have no fear”, “Do not be afraid!”.
The above words were used by Pope Francis in the homily at the mass on August 6, during his trip in Portugal for the World Youth Day.
Moreover, also our parish priest don Antonio, when we set up the Feast Committee, urged us to have no fear to undertake this new adventure, adding that our team spirit and fantasy would have surely made such an experience a shining light.
That’s why on October 13 we spent a pleasant evening with him, to thank him for having been close to us, and for the courtesy and wisdom demonstrated at each journey stage of this wonderful committee.
Thanks, don Antonio !
The feast committee 2023/24
PILGRIMAGE TO S. GIOVANNI ROTONDO - INCORONATA DI FOGGIA
Sunday 8, after about two hours on a bus, we reached S. Giovanni Rotondo to pray at the tomb of St Pio of Pietralcina. We attended the Mass at 11,30 in the basilica, very crowded but silent, all in recollection around the Eucharistic mystery, and everybody, although stranger, felt as a brother or a sister, sharing in that place and in that moment the same faith.
The presence of so many people represents an encouragement for those having a tepid faith, so not living such a life experience sharing it constantly with their brothers; and the pilgrimage has the goal to meet the others and encourage to regularly participate to Sacraments.
Many of us, accepting the invitation and the witness of St Pio, approached the Sacrament of Reconciliation, thus experiencing once more the God’s mercy.
He, as a loving father and despite our limits, embraces us, joyful because we are back to His love.
In the early afternoon we prayed all together along the path of the Cross meditating on His Passion; the path flows in the shade of the trees, and ends in full sun where you can see the glory of the Resurrection, depicted by the image of Christ on a big background of white marble
Then we went to the Incoronata sanctuary in Foggia. We did the narrow path in front of the image of Mary with Jesus, and everybody felt wrapped in the embrace of the most loving mother.
Then we returned home, tired but happy because of this experience, and mainly encouraged to continue our journey of faith.
What’s the craft with the highest responsibility ?
Somebody will think to the airplane pilot or to the train driver; someone else to the surgeon or the security responsible of a nuclear power plant; maybe one or two will mention the parish priest as responsible of souls (assuming this can be defined as a crafty).
Anyway, each one receives some money to perform his job, so if somebody would propose you one with a very high responsibility but without remuneration and with all expenses on your charge, quite surely you’ll tell him to go to hell.
Rather, a lot of people is doing that, and on a voluntary basis ! We’re speaking of the “craft” of being a parent.
Surely you don’t do it to ensure somebody will pay the pensions for old people, and let’s believe that not so many do it just to follow the “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis, 1:26-29)
Well, you do this just for love, also when a child “was not in plan” (what an horrible word in such a context!)
So, as soon as you become parents, troubles start. In the night, when you’re asking yourself how is it possible that a so little body can keep awake the neighbourhood; days of anxiety when they had childhood diseases; you had to help with homeworks; later, you stayed awake while awaiting them to come back from their first party (and don’t feel guilty because of that: do you remember “they started looking for him among their relatives and acquaintances; not having found him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple."..” Son, why did you do this to us? Behold, your father and I, anxious, were looking for you."
You see? They were worried, even though they knew WHO HE WAS…
The word “to breed” means to nourish until maturity, but not just physically: parents must teach them to become good people. You see, children are like the wet clay that the potter puts on the wheel to create the desired shape; and that’s exactly the parents’ duty. The most important factor is home; Pope John Paul II called it “the domestic Church”, because it is the site where children learn how to behave, observing the parents, that are the main figures they trust.
Unfortunately today many people forgot these statements: they treat kids like pets, and later they’re addressed to a life where it is important what you have and what you seem, rather than what you are.
Did you notice that it’s quite normal to ask “what do you prefer for dinner” rather than “dinner is ready; wash your hands and come” implying “come and eat what -thank goodness- is available, and if you don’t like it, you can go to sleep”.
How many times when you answer NO to a request, they told you “but all of my friends have it” or “but everybody does it”. Well, it should be better to clearly explain that they cannot have or do whatever they like, and what “the others” are doing is not always right. This “evil” represents a precious help, because sooner or later they will impact with something; and they can face it only if “trained” (and when adults, they will thank us in their hearth)
As parents, we must always remember the importance of discipline, to avoid to continuously hear from the TV news so many evil deeds done by minors.
And what’s worse is that these action are filmed with wonderful phones, because it’s now clear that it’s a merit to flaunt the deeds. Well, let’s remind that if the intent is to give children something capable to contact them or to be contacted by them in case of need, there are phones absolutely suitable for this purpose, and at very low cost. The only “problem” is that they cannot be used to go on websites (maybe during school time or while eating), so is also not possible to spread on internet the images of their epic adventures. Maybe they aren’t so much used because parents do not want their kids to feel undermined, today that people is at the mercy of the herd instinct. We’re burdened by advertising that tends to make us feel like we’re less: the terms “trendy” and “must” indicate something we are absolutely obliged to have, otherwise we are not part of the flock.
Well, we must try to tell our children to stop “going with the flow”, to flatten on the crowd: let’s encourage them to be themselves, otherwise at the end we’ll become like the lemmings, all falling on the sea from the reef without asking why.
So, to bring up children is clearly a difficult task requiring lot of responsibility. But this must not discourage, because problems are largely counterbalanced by a joy that very few other things can give you.
Therefore, children are absolutely welcome, also more than one because the joy will be multiplied by their number.
We are absolutely aware that somebody now will say “if I want to be preached at, I go to church”, That’s true; but this is the Parish website, so we feel important to provide food for thought. To paraphrase a sentence of a famous western film “it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it."
St Michele feast – Sept 29
The popular devotion to St Michael Archangel is strong in Basilicata, so also in Pignola.
The worship takes place twice a year, on May 8 and September 29, with a pilgrimage to the little church dedicated to him. It is in the countryside, between the St Bernardino, Ciglio and Serranetta mountains, and represents the last testimony of the Capuchin convent dated 1535. The original statue was stolen on August 1996; it was placed on the top of a cave entrance, and all similar caves in our region have common characteristics: they’re always in a rocky mountainside, near a river, and quite always in difficult to reach areas.
This year we, as Feast Committee, organized also the S.Michele feast; we obtained the participation of many elementary school students with their teachers to the pilgrimage that started from St Rocco church, passed through the Paschiere and Cinese districts, and at the end of a path surrounded by nature arrived to S. Michele church. There we did the traditional three round around the church before entering for the mass celebration, whose end was accompanied by the sound of the bell.
In the afternoon in the church of San Rocco we had a concert by the Macedonia University School of Music Science and Art, and in the evening, at the Paschiere district, tasting meal of pasta and beans for everybody, with some red wine. At the end, spectacular fireworks illuminated the sky.
The Feast Committee
Historical details of “Vignola” in precious literary sources
“Historia magistra vitae” (history is the teacher of life) said Cicero, and this was the main theme this evening, Saturday the 16th, while presenting two books about Vignola (the old name of Pignola)
One, titled “The parchments of the church S. Maria Maggiore in Pignola” has been written by Donatella Gerardi, and contains the description and analysis of 60 parchments, dating between 14th and 19th century; the second, “L’Apprezzo della terra di Vignola (1730)” (Estimated land values of Vignola), by Rosanna Lamboglia, is a structured study on a document kept at the State Archives of Naples; both books have been drawn up under the supervision of Professor Panarelli, lecturer of medieval history at the University of Basilicata.
The event, in the Main Church, began with the welcome of our Mayor Antonio De Luca and myself representing the Proloco, followed by some words from our Parish Priest don Antonio Laurita, who is an expert of our artistic and cultural heritage. Professor Panarelli has explained the genesis of the project and the job done by the two authors.
At the end Vito Sabia, as President of the National Union of all Proloco, has underlined the importance of such initiatives to preserve and promote the local cultural heritage, thanking Loredana Albano as President of Proloco for this initiative.
Also the memory of Mario Bruno Albano has been mentioned, as the founder of our Proloco that has followed many good activities in this direction, as well as Nicola Vista, who was a local cultural entertainer, died in 2020. That year began the activity, leaded by Fiorentino Trapanese, the Catholic Action President, to celebrate the six hundredth anniversary of the annexation of Vignola to the “Casa dell’Annunziata” in Naples.
Thus, a nice evening that reminds us that only knowing our past we can enhance our traditions in the future.
PILGRIMAGE TO TOLVE
On Saturday Sept 16, fifty people from Pignola had a trip to Tolve, organized by E20Pignola, to participate to the
S. Rocco feast. The Holy Mass was celebrated by His Excellency Archbishop of Satriano, Emilio Natta.
After the Eucharistic ceremony a procession took place through the streets of the town; it has been a Saturday full of faith and friendliness; we’ve been hosted in the hall of the canonical house where we could stay in full comfort. Obviously there was also some music and dance, as we like a lot.
Let’s thank our Parish Priest don Antonio Laurita who was acting as our guide, also from a spiritual perspective, in this sunny day; and let me remind we bought a very large quantity of "cirasedde e puparule". (peppers and hot peppers)
As every 3rd Sunday in September we had the conclusion of our Patron feast in Pantano: a religious event, but a cultural entertainment too.
The Feast Committee, born on 18 October 2022 and entirely made of 24 women, has been working intensively to put in place a varied program, suitable for all tastes and ages: an immersive mix capable to attract visitors also from neighbouring regions. Our guideline has constantly been to propose little items, but capable to involve the whole community.
Awaiting for the September feast the Committee has tried to create a Christmas atmosphere with an event named “Pantano Christmas Party”, and it has been the first little success that has given a feeling of confidence for the organization of the other events.
Anyway, to arrive to this September 17, the last feast day on which there is the procession of the Madonna’s statue from the Main Church to the Pantano shrine, has not been so easy.
The Committee components were all women, sometime with husband and children, and they spent many evenings sitting around a big white table in a Municipal room writing, thinking, deciding, sometime listening to the President’s screams, or having as dinner just a piece of a cake prepared by somebody who felt like a mother of all of them. Sometime we had a knot in our stomach, when we had to make ends meet and because we wanted to do our best; but we had also satisfactory evenings that made us proud of our choices and actions.
This Committee has given some confirmation and some good revelations; it gave to our community some evenings of good music but, on top, it was able to create new friendship and respect relations, and during the feast the people could notice in their eyes the sense of union, smiles and happiness despite their exhaustion.
That’s why today, at the end, the President feels a bit melancholy: she already knows she will miss the 23 women that have been working with her, so she heartily thanks all of them for giving such an unforgettable experience. As well, we must thanks all people that, although not part of the Committee, gave their precious help to the success of the feast.
The absolute “MUST” of our time: to be BEAUTIFUL (outside)
There is no univocal criterion to measure the beauty. The parameters for its evaluation change over time: a very old small statue dated around 30,000 years ago has “curved” anatomical details very, very prominent; in ancient Egypt lean and slender women were appreciated; and so on.
An old proverb states that “beauty is in eye of the beholder” or, as Voltaire said: “Beauty for a toad is his toadesse” ; but obviously we’re not argumenting just about women, because such a “need” to be (at least to appear) beautiful pertains also to many men.
Thus, the idea of beauty is just illusory; but we are in a society that wants to sell us whatever would make people beautiful (and if you think you already are so, something else to make you even more beautiful). To summarize, they want us believing that the more beautiful we are (externally), the grater our success in life will be.
Well, Carl William Brown said : “Beauty reigns supreme in the temples of entertainment, cinema, TV, fashion. The new gods dwell there, on the Olympus of stupidity.”
Unfortunately, it seems that few realize that looking always at that external beauty we have lost sight of another beauty: the INTERIOR, the one of the soul, deeply inside a person.
So, are we really sure that we don’t have to look behind the external beauty? Is it possible that can be so hard to understand how such a brilliance is false like a glittering effect that has no value at all? Can we really focus our attention on a person just because of the external beauty, regardless of the inside?
So, it would be better to limit the aesthetic requirements of the container, increasing the importance of the content: we should always remind that we have also a soul that is really more important of a full head of hair or a bald one, of turtle shell abdominals rather than a touch of belly.
If we are believers we should know that external beauty sooner or later fades, and the human body of which we cares so much is not eternal “like grass that grows up in the morning and is cut down in the evening” (Ref Psalm 89)
Let’s close with a final quotation by Frida Kahlo : If our eyes saw souls instead of bodies, how different our idea of beauty would be!
Feast of San Donato
There are really few information on San Donato. He is mentioned in a document written by San Severino, who succeeded him as bishop of Arezzo. In this text are present both certain and uncertain information, like the date of his death that is reported to happen when the emperor was Julian, while other sources state under the emperor Diocletian. In his youth he became cleric, following the teaching of Pimenio, together with Julian the Apostate, who begun a violent persecution against the church. Thus, Donato fled to Arezzo where he continued to convert pagans, but just because of that he was beheaded on August 7.
This saint bishop is venerated in many Italian towns, and also in Pignola, where he is the patron of the “Terra” district, in the highest part of the village, where his church was built near the Main Church.
The build date is unknown; it could date back to the 13th century, because of the Byzantine frescoes found during the restoration of the church after the earthquake in 1980.
The church, initially dedicated to St. Nicholas, was entitled to S. Donato about at the end of the nineteenth or at the beginning of the twentieth century and, based on a document from Gian Battista Pacielli, it was adjoining the baronial residence.
Currently only the façade and part of the walls remain standing, but the absence of the roof allows to enjoy the vision of the starry sky in the nights of August.
In the parsonage there are two sculptures that, according to the 1891 inventory, were in two niches of the church; they should represent an unidentified Saint Bishop and St. Vincent Ferrer.
The feast of St Donato is on August 7, and when our Parish Priest don Antonio asked us, as Feast Committee of Maria SS. degli Angeli, to take care of it, we committed ourselves to this completely new challenge, because we feel important to keep alive our traditions.
So, after the religious procession in the afternoon, in the evening we had gastronomy stands, popular and modern music, dance, and a karaoke at the end.
We really hope that our efforts will be shared by future Committees, allowing to repeat this feast in the next years.
Feast of St. Dominic in Rifreddo
Dominic de Guzman, born in the ancient Castiglia, distinguished himself from an early age by charity and poverty. He was convinced of the need to bring back clergy to austerity, so he founded the Order of Preachers in Toulouse , calling himself humble minister of preaching, with the aim to save souls.
According to some witnesses of that time “Dominic was a man following the Gospel in work and words. During the day he was sociable and affable with people; in the night, assiduously devoted to prayer. Man of few words, he was used to just speak with or of God”.
He died in 1221 in Bologna, and was canonized a few years later.
This saint is honored also in the Rifreddo district, where there is his little church; here the saint was yearly celebrated until about ten years ago. Now, in 2023, the celebration started again thanks to the inhabitants of the district and the Parish Priest who asked us, as members of the Pignola’s feast Committee for 2023/2024, to cooperate. We accepted that invitation with enthusiasm, giving all possible moral and material aid, being convinced that our traditions must be preserved in order to maintain our cultural heritage.
Yes, it was quite an effort to carry on shoulders the statue of St Dominic among the streets of Rifreddo, but the devotion helped us; and in the evening a lot of fun with the “Band A4 Melody” (and also a lot of wind…)
Thus, we’ve been really pleased to have been involved and hope the event will repeat also in next years.
The feast of Saint Rocco
As it happens every year, on August 16 Pignola has celebrated San Rocco.
In his Church we had a mass in the morning, followed by the procession, and one in the evening. For the non-religious part, the Committee prepared some neighborhood games plus a magic show for the youngest, and an evening performance of music and dance for the adults.
We would have liked to begin this little article with a biography of the saint but, although he is one of the most important and popular (he is the patron saint of many towns in all Italian regions), only few information and of uncertain origin are available. This is perhaps due to the fact that his action was addressed to poor people, used to transmit events only orally; but basically must come from his attitude to practice the evangelical charity: “when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing”, following the teaching of Saint Paul: Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up.
Think to the famous statement “advertising is the soul of business”: yes, that’s true about business, where you look at the profit; but which kind of profit can exists about charity?
It is something we do and that’s all: the only “profit” can be to feel close to our brothers and sisters, without broadcasting it.
Let’s suppose S. Rocco living today: do you think that for every healing from plague he would have posted on facebook a selfie of himself with the healed person ?
This was the main subject of the speech by don Antonio, who also pointed out how the Parish Priest must not be a protagonist: rather, he has to act behind the scenes, promoting the charisms given to the community because, as Pope Francis said, "where there is a need, the Spirit has already poured out charisms that allow to respond to it".
Look at how many good things have been realized by the young people composing the latest Feasts Committees: if they receive so many appreciations, it’s thanks to them, not thanks to the priest, whose duty is just to discover and help to realize their own giftedness.
Reporting the words used by don Antonio: “as the roots of a tree, that are invisible below the ground but sustain the plant”
Let’s close with a “little” episode in which we cannot avoid to see the presence of the Saint. During the musical performance in the evening, there were a few Africans standing on the sidelines, cautious to interfere with the feast. Well, they did not enter the church, where are present sacred images, flowers, candles, smell of incense; rather, they entered the heart of a young member of the committee, where there is surely present the Holy Spirit and the smell of a great sensitivity: when he noticed them, he went near the little group and invited them to come with him to a stand where he offered snacks and drinks, thus involving them in the feast in the most natural and simple way.
A good example of charity without profit: it’s really the feast of Saint Rocco!
Mater Gratiarum (Our Lady of Grace) – July the 2nd
Mary Most Holy, the One that brings the Grace par excellence, Her son Jesus; thus, She’s the Mother of divine grace.
Queen of all graces, She intercedes for us before God, who doesn’t deny Her anything; that’s why people has a great devotion to Her. In the past, when there was poor scientific knowledge, the remedy could only be supernatural; thus, when in early ‘700 there was in Pignola a serious outbreak affecting infants, people was praying the “maternal” image of Mary present in the church of Our Lady of Graces.
From that, the tradition to yearly celebrate a feast in July 2 ( the date of the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth) , with a great concourse of people.
Since a couple of years, some people living on the area when this church is located, called “Paschiere”, formed a committee that cures the church little maintenance and organizes the feast. In this day, the parents bring their kids to the church to receive the blessing and live under Our Lady’s protection, and every year it is a great emotion to see those parents holding the children in their arms or by hands, trying to stay as close as possible to Mary’s statue.
This year somebody said “it was a particularly touching moment: you were among the children with a face of happiness. Thanks don Antonio”
And till late evening in the quarter there are music, songs, dances, and fireworks with thousands of colors.
The Corpus Domini solemnity recalls the real presence of Jesus into the Eucharist, and usually there are processions representing Jesus going through the man’s roads.
Probably the feast dates back to XIII century, when in Belgium the blessed Giuliana di Retine, prioress of the cloister of Monte Cornelio near Liege, had a vision of a white moon but with a dark stain. This was interpreted as the symbol of a missing solemnity in honor of the Most Holy Sacrament, thus there was a request to create this fest, and the local Bishop accepted.
Some years later, a miracle occurred in Bolsena, near Rome: during the mass, a priest had a doubt about the real presence of Jesus inside the host: suddenly from it came some drops of blood, staining his robe and the altar. So, the Pope Urban IV officially stated this feast for the whole Church, fixing its date on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The Paramount hymn of the feast is “Pange lingua”, written by St Thomas Aquinas.
While the Ascension Day concerns the institution of the Eucharist, the Corpus Domini day is about the relationship between the Eucharist and the Church, that is between the Lord’s body and his Mystic Body.
The Eucharist is an experience of love that should become a lifestyle.
When we hear “do this in memory of me”, it means “do as I do”, so “take care of others”. That’s the “Community”: the personal prayer is not enough; Eucharist means to pray all together.
This year the umbrella in honor of the Most Holy Sacrament was held by the new mayor, Dr. Antonio De Luca. The Parish Priest thanks him for his witness of faith, and gives him and new municipal administration the best wishes for a fruitful work.
June the 9th - CONFIRMATION
The Confirmation is the gift by Holy Spirit given to Church by Jesus on Pentecost.
Since that day the gift came to us through the Apostles, giving us the possibility to know more about Jesus and to love Him through the love we give our loved ones, and with our everyday actions.
Under this assumption fifteen young people, after a two-years roadmap, received the seal of the Holy Spirit by our bishop Salvatore Ligorio during the 6.30 p.m. mass at our Main Church.
Despite the high number of faithful, there was a big recollection, following the words of the bishop.
At the end, excitement and joy were the prevailing feelings; we thanks God for the time passed with these boys and girls, and wish them to have the Holy Spirit as a faithful friend along their life.
04 June 2023 - First Communion
The meeting at the parsonage, the delivery of flowers and candles as a reminder of the Baptism: the anxiety grows for twenty children that have been prepared to receive today Jesus for the first time.
Twenty wonderful children that went through various difficulties along the preparatory course because of COVID; but finally it’s the moment to remove the mask , so there are again twenty little faces smiling like their eyes.
But just during the ceremony rehearsal some of them were positives; after some bewilderment we’ve been able to end the preparation and now “the day” is here.
Starting from the parsonage, the children move to the Main Church singing “what a blessed day”, to remind the dearest Adriana; and when they enter the church all problems disappear.
This day is also the feast of the Holy Trinity, so in his homily the parish priest invites children to reflect on this great Mystery, and closes telling them to emulate the Virgin Mary who answered ”here I am”, making possible the God’s project.
Then, the suggestive offertory procession followed by the Communion moment, with children really excited. At the end, they receive the “certificate” and lot of photos.
Once more we, as catechists, must say to have received many emotions by these children, and we wish their families they will become active witnesses and a light for everybody.
First Communion feast
Everybody was afraid that the bad weather we are facing in this period would have ruined the today’s feast; but luckily (or maybe because of the will of Somebody) this morning the sun is shining.
At least one hour before the appointment time the surrounding of Main Church, usually serious, are brightened by many little figures in white churning because of the usual photos, surrounded by relatives.
When the time comes, framed by the big bright rectangle created by the main entrance, children enter the church carrying little lights and white flowers.
As we could expect, they appear a bit awkward, despite the commendable efforts of their catechists who prepared them for this big step; but at the end all sit neatly forming a circle in front of the altar. and answer the parish priest.
The homily wasn’t a “traditional” one: it was quite a dialog between the priest and the children (although also adults should have been benefited), focusing on the coincidence of this day with the Holy Trinity feast. Then, the main moment: each one receives the Host for the first time, then stay in recollection for a moment (more or less contrite…); rather, when the Communion is being given to relatives, they feel for a moment free from their leading role, exchanging some smiles and words.
Let’s spend a few word to remind the invisible but palpable presence of the pipe organ and chorus: without them the ceremony would not have been the same, because they add something mystical.
The ceremony ends with children singing a song dedicated to our Patron, the Virgin Mary, with the gaze focused on Her; and at this point everybody, also who is normally unflappable, surely felt emotionally involved.
Farewell speech by the president of Feast Committee
The “adventure” began on May 2022, when our Parish Priest in his good speech invited the young people to remain in Pignola and do something beautiful all together.
So, we had the idea to create the committee, and I was appointed as president.
At the formal beginning we were about 30, but we looked like thousands, all enthusiastic about the new experience and happy to give our contribution.
Some said “they’re all young people: we’ll see what they are able to do…”
Today a year has passed: a year full of activities, joy, discussion, sacrifices; but we did everything gladly. So, let’s look back : we’ve organized the Feast of Assumption, the Feast of S. Rocco, where we reintroduced the neighbourhood games, the three days Feast of S.Michele, a renewed “Uglia” plus a small one for the children, and more.
We hope all of the above can represent an example to be followed by new generations, as we did looking at previous.
Now we pass the baton to a new group of young people that will realize the feast next year, sure that they will do their best to honor our Patron.
It’s dutiful to thank everybody who has helped us: the Carabinieri, the Local Police Headquarter, the local Civil Protection, the former mayor Gerardo Ferretti and his successor Antonio De Luca, the local AVIS, the associations Hello Mondo and Young Minds, the riding school Postiglione and -obiously- all fellow villagers that helped us for free.
On top, let me thank all inhabitants, that every Sunday gave their offering with a smile.
Speaking to my friends that made up the Committee, I must tell them “Guys, you’ve been great! Our success has been possible because of you!”
At the end, I must thank our Parish Priest: he has believed in us since the beginning, never putting limits, and warning us when needed.
Thanks again to everybody; viva Maria, viva Pignola!
The Poor Clares
Recently on this site there was a little article about the visit that candidates for Confirmation, accompanied by catechists, did to the convent of Poor Clares here in Potenza.
In the text there was the sentence “young people knew a very different lifestyle”; well, maybe that also those that are not so young could make a few comments on the matter.
You see, a cloistered convent is a “locked place”: nobody can go outside and outsiders can rarely enter, and anyway with some limitations.
Well, it can be a pleasant and relaxing place, with flowers around, clean air, and a lot of peace; but to stay ALWAYS inside…
Think to how many words have been spent by psychologists about possible impacts given to our mental health by the COVID lockdown that has obliged us to stay locked at home, while these sisters stay there not because they’re being forced, but by their choice. Moreover, not just for a certain time, but for life!
We that are “outside” feel absolutely free: free to go everywhere, to contact everybody, to eat or sleep when we want, to choose from a thousand TV channel, and so on.
But are we sure that we are free, while that minority that lives in the convent is not?
Are we free from the heavy influence of society, from the hypocrisy pushing us to do or to say something that we don’t feel really as ours, from advertising telling us to buy something we don’t really need, and much more?
Or these sisters who freely decided not to be free (based on the meaning we give to this word), that have chosen to live an existence linked to rigid canons, with timing and activities to be continuously respected, are those really free?
Not to mention the fact that they are “transparent” to the world outside: today the utmost desire is “to appear” and to receive a lot of “like”, but how many of us know about their presence? There is a revealing phrase, said by one of them: “we could consider the monastic enclosure like the roots of a tree: you don’t see them, but they are sustaining the plant”
So, to those that lack the good fortune to have the same faith, it can seem impossible and almost inhuman to live an existence based mainly on prayer, with little household tasks, making jams or little cakes to sell and – unbelievable – without APPs or Facebook.
But for them probably that’s more than enough, and we will never be able to understand that.
To confirm this, the journalist and writer Sergio Zavoli after his visit to a cloistered convent said: “I was thinking to find there tired, mortified, sorrowful creatures. Rather, I’ve in front of me creatures full of uncommon serenity”
The Feast of Our Lady in Pignola
“Words cannot express it, you can only enjoy”
This sentence was used by Gerardo Acierno at the beginning of his book “Pignolerie” (a book about Pignola), meaning that “each one of us feels different emotions and peculiar feelings about this feast.”
It is a great witness of popular piety and faith, but also a precious opportunity to promote a heritage of history and traditions, and dates back to 1521, that means the same period when the Pantano shrine was built, and had a very important moment on 27 June 1965, when the statue of Our Lady was crowned by Pope Paul VI.
At the beginning of the feast, on 3rd Sunday of May, there is the procession moving from the Pantano shrine up to the Main Church; the opposite happens on 3rd Sunday of September.
Another traditional event, between the sacred and the profane, is the evening of “Uglia”: following the music, a canopy with the Madonna’s image is carried on shoulders dancing and jumping through bonfires.
This year the committee in charge of the feast was composed mainly by young people, mostly twenties: they’ve been able to realize a very attractive feast, maybe one of the best I remember. because of the good mix between cultural and recreational: a good band, an exhibition of painting, banners of neighborhoods, the restoration of Uglia, the showing of a video in memory of don Rocco, musical concerts, a show on female crafts and, obviously, nice fireworks. For all of that we’ve to thank the committee headed by Fausto Marcogiuseppe.
Visit to Santa Chiara - 14/05/2023
Boys and girls that are going to receive the Confirmation,
accompanied by their catechists went to visit the convent of Poor Clares that is located in Potenza.
They knew a really different way of living, and received the testimonies of these women, who decided to follow the road traced by Santa Chiara from Assisi
They also enthusiastically participated to Vespers, singing praises to Lord with the nuns.
As Saint Augustine said “singing is praying twice”
Dear brothers and sisters,
we all are aware that our earthly life had a beginning and will surely have an end; but it is not so easy to accept it when it involves our mother, even for a priest; that’s why it becomes proof of our love for God.
God has not forbidden us to mourn the death of our loved ones: He himself cried over the death of Lazarus, although knowing He was going to resurrect him; so, we can do the same for our deaths, that we believe are going to resurrect to a new life.
Like everybody, my mom had to struggle; but she knew that her life was full of consolations: a faithful husband, lot of friends, and happy children. The evangelist John states that to generate a new life is painful, but once the children is born, the mother forgets the pain; and her most intense joy is to see her children becoming adult, although for the mothers we are never enough adult.
Losing the mother we lose our reliable reference; with our mother we never need to pretend, because in the woman that gives the life there are only simplicity and peace.
Why in the fear everybody calls the mom? Because the love of our mother is the strongest, purest, most faithful love that can exist.
I owe a lot of what I am to my mother: sure, also the Church gave me a lot, but the essence has been transmitted to me by mom when I was a boy.
And she did it simply “caring of her family”.
She was near to my father up to his death, cooperating with him to educate the children; she taught us to love God and our neighbor; and has been always near me during so many years of priesthood, sharing all my problems.
I must thank God for having enjoyed her presence till today, and also for having the grace to raise every day the cup of salvation, source of suffrage for the deceased.
Let us ask our patron Mary Most Holy of Angels to strengthen our faith and sustain our prayers of suffrage for my mother and all our dear dead.
Pignola, 16 May 2023
also you ended your earthly parable, returning to the Father’s house and leaving a sad regret in all of us.
There are many memories linked to you, to your sunny and cheerful temperament, always available to listen and give useful suggestions.
St. Roch’s Church was a second home for you; you took care of it: everything had to be in its place, everything had to be perfect. But I remember mainly your devotion while reciting the Holy Rosary, where you used special invocations that I learned and use still today.
And I’ll continue to do this in your sweet memory.
Your soul is now with God, who raised you in his Glory because of your faith and trust in Him.
My deepest condolences to your relatives
with love, Ninetta Perone
Marriage preparation course
Family love according to Saint Paul :
Love is always patient; love is always kind; love is never envious or arrogant with pride.
Nor is she conceited, and she is never rude; she never thinks just of herself or ever get annoyed.
She never is resentful; is never glad with sin, but always glad to side with truth, whenever the truth should win. She bears up under everything, believes the best in all, there is no limit to her hope, and she will never fall.
The hymn to charity from the letter of St Paul to the Corinthians, known also as Hymn to love, has been the main guideline of the marriage preparation course, being one of the most fascinating texts present in the Holy Scripture.
The course was attended by seven engaged couples that are going to get married this year, and it was divided in seven meetings; the first two were focused on the “patient and kind love”, the remaining on negative aspects, wrath and resentment.
In this path we based on experiential catechesis, thus facing questions about life, with related reflection and confrontation on the sacrament and the meaning of the Christian family.
At the end, we spoke about the formal promise of marriage and its legal and religious issues.
At each meeting was also present our parish priest, don Antonio, who anyway stated the course had to be leaded by a couple having a twenty-year marital experience; and we must say that it has been a moment of strong sharing and mutual growth.
So, let’s wish these young couples that their love will be a small spark of the immense love of our Father.
In the 2022 edition of this site there was an article related to the presence of a statue of our Patron at the Santa Rita church in Brooklyn, New York.
Thanks to the relationships between our Parish Priest and the Feast Committee in Pignola and Father Eugene Carella in New York we have a video about the mass of May 7.
Pignola, 30 April 2023
Scarred by suffering, dear Vincenzo, you flew to heaven increasing the number of stars.
But we miss your presence, your daily life, your dedication. It’s not possible to forget your good person, well known by everybody because of your industriousness, creativity, commitment to your job. You had many plans for the future, full of the love for the family, for your daughters that will miss forever the tender and caring affection of their father.
We are a bit surprised, knowing you’ve fought hard against that terrible illness that had exhausted your body but not your spirit, nor your desire to live. Unfortunately the harbinger of death came to accompany you to his big castle, and such event is always finding us unprepared; so, our community is losing another young son.
I deeply share the despair of your parents and those who hoped a different future for you: dawns and sunsets will no more have the same beauty as before. .
The only solace could be to think that you’ve been raised to the Glory of God.
Good journey, dear Vincenzo
the cruel death has torn you from the love of your ones.
I did not know you very deeply, because we rarely meet; but when this happened I greatly appreciated your restraint and distance from frivolities
Yes, because you were a woman calm, very hardworking, devoted to your family and home.
I was appreciating also your perseverance in faith, resulting in a serene trust in the Lord.
You loved unconditionally your children, giving them always thoughtful attention.
We were linked by the deep friendship between your Tommaso and my Bruno. Now life will be very difficult for him, but I’m sure he will receive your help from heaven and the attention from children. The suffering endured while you’ve been in the hospital in this last period has surely
thrown open the gates of heaven now that your life’s parable here has ended.
From there, pray for your children who have loving nursed you, relieving at least partially your suffering.
I will always remember you in my prayers.
With love, Ninetta Perone
The Parish library
Over the years, in our Parish locations many books and publications accumulated; but because of the re-buildings after various natural disasters, nobody knew what was available and where it was.
Finally, when the canonical house has been completed, it was decided to put there the parish library and make it usable.
To do that, we had to follow a long identification, organization and cataloguing activity, because there were about 8500 components.
The information (title, author, date) are now contained in an excel file: typing a search word in a cell, you’ll see on the screen all titles containing that word (or that author) and their location.
Obviously half of the content is related to religious items; but the other half is really heterogeneous: atlases, dictionaries and encyclopedias, ancient and modern literature, laws and codes, history, sociology, and many other subjects.
About the dating, it goes from today back to 1700; at least one is dated 1606. We say “at least” because some very ancient books do not show the date.
Let’s finish stating that publications less than a hundred years old are still in good condition, while unfortunately the older ones have suffered the deterioration caused by time, wars, earthquakes; but all in all it’s enough that they are here!
Don Rocco Piro: soul to God, heart to Church, body to Pignola
The community of Pignola is united in the pain because of the don Rocco’s departure, and thanks God for the great gift of such a spiritual shepherd.
He represented an essential guide for everybody because of his deep faith, nourished by prayer and fostered by an outstanding effort, resulting in a Priestly service aimed to charitable reception.
Everybody knows we lost a father who dedicated the life to his community, always respecting each single person and the town identity, hardly working to preserve its traditions; and we will remember forever his smile, a sign of his cordiality.
During the liturgy he was showing commendable care and passion: never a word spoken out of turn, never a wrong move.
As well, his qualities were manifest while he was acting as teacher of religion, or as responsible for the diocesan catechetical office, or operating in the Catholic Action and parish Caritas, not to mention his activities in social and cultural initiatives.
Don Rocco, thanks for your teachings; you told us many times that “God cannot be discussed, you must just love Him”
That’s why we join in prayer before our patron Maria Santissima degli Angeli, mother of your vocation; we’re sure you’ll be part of Her angelic crown, continuing to give us guidance from Heaven.
Dearest Don Rocco,
retracing the past, I remember the celebration for the fiftieth anniversary of your priestly ordination. In the day of your death, I like to report that write, because we think to you as still alive among us.
Fifty years of priesthood
I’m very honored this evening to give witness to don Rocco, Parish priest in Pignola for over 50 years; and it’s at the same time easy and difficult to speak about his long itinerary. It’s a journey of faith leading me to a distant past, when I was a young girl attending the ceremony of your priestly ordination. I remember just a few things, but very clearly: the church full of people, you laying on the floor consecrating to God, while the parish choir sang “Tu es sacerdos in aeternum”.
At that time I was already frequenting the Catholic Action, and when don Rocco organized a summer colony for about 100 children I was there as childcare assistant, 9 hours a day, together with Leonilde Pinotti, Maria Fusco and some others.
We were involving children in walks and games, but mainly in lessons of catechism, etiquette, morality; and you, don Rocco, were the supervisor and also the source of our educational training.
I remember that weekly we were walking all together, as scouts, with lunch bags to Rifreddo, Sellata, Arioso, where we stay all the day. At a certain time you came, initially riding an horse and later on a scooter, to read a Gospel passage or a Saint Paul’s letter.
We were also preparing, with the help of Sisters, theatre performances run under your direction, to be later done in the local movie theatre in Mazzini street.
As well, don Rocco built a new chorus (I remember Tanina Palermo, my sister Angela, Liliana Stigliani, Maria Miglionico, Anna Paciello, Peppina Vista, Rosetta Olita) and we learnt to sing the Angel’s mass and later the one by Lorenzo Perosi. Everything seemed difficult, but thanks to don Rocco we succeeded.
I can say, without any fear of being contradicted, that our being Christians comes entirely from the teachings received by don Rocco, who put at the heart of his existence the divine dimension; and when sometime he was reproaching us, he did it just to reawaken our conscience.
Thus, let me express a heartfelt thanks on behalf of my generation: thanks for the spiritual good you gave, for your pastoral commitment and for your great generosity to meet both material and spiritual needs of our community.
We thank the Lord for this great gift: yes, dear don Rocco, you’ve been such a gift from the Lord who surely is welcoming you into His arms.
Ninetta Perone and the entire community
There was really a lot of snow that morning of February, four years ago; and the climb that leads from my house to the alley where is the entrance to the sacristy of St. Antony’s church was full of it. There was no trace of cars, much less of people.
I told my wife “Today we won’t go out: we’ll stay holed up at home, reading a book in front of the fireplace” so I went to search one. Suddenly she called me: “Erberto, come here and see!”
I went back immediately into the living room, asking myself what was going on. My wife was mesmerized, looking through the window, so I moved closer to have a look. A man wearing a black coat, with a beret on the white head, was trudging along in the snow, leaning on his umbrella and stopping now and then for breath.
He was don Rocco, going to celebrate the mass at the church of St Antony.
“But … how old is he?” asked me Katia. I did a quick calculation, ad said “95”
So, I put on a pair of boots and a coat, and left home telling my wife “I’m going to Mass and to keep him company”
In the church there was nobody at all; don Rocco celebrated the Mass normally, without any hurry.
At the end, in the sacristy I reproached him: “But don Rocco, at your age, with such a bad weather, this is really an imprudence: you well know that no one would come to mass!”
“You see” he answered “I wanted to become a priest to celebrate the Eucharist for my followers, regardless if many, a few, or nobody”
When I was back in Rome (at that time I was going there quite every week) I told this nice story to a priest friend. His comment was “What to say? Ask that saintly priest to put also myself and our dreams in the paten, because I’m sure God will be pleased and will help us”
Well, that’s what don Rocco is: a priest according to God’s heart. And to me, that’s enough.
Then, as everybody here, I could tell lots of things about his closeness and comfort in moments of pain; and doing that, he was never common and predictable but sincerely affectionate.
Don Rocco loved and served the Church in obedience; although he was a priest since many years, he accepted the changes which have occurred in the Church, at the same time suffering because of the crisis of faith in our Country and the whole Europe. But he was anyway cultivating the Christian Hope and Love, sure that they at the end will surely win.
Dear Monsignor, you did not live in vain: you left a deep mark in your people. You’ve been here strong as an oak, living shelter to many, also to those who wanted just to rest for a moment in the shade of your branches.
I don’t know why, but thinking to you some lines by Edgar Lee Masters came in my mind:
YOU are over there, Father Malloy,
Where holy ground is, and the cross marks every grave,
Not here with us on the hill—
Us of wavering faith, and clouded vision
And drifting hope, and unforgiven sins.
You were so human, Father Malloy,
Taking a friendly glass sometimes with us,
Siding with us who would rescue Spoon River
From the coldness and the dreariness of village morality.
You were like a traveler who brings a little box of sand
From the wastes about the pyramids
And makes them real and Egypt real.
You were a part of and related to a great past,
And yet you were so close to many of us.
You believed in the joy of life.
You did not seem to be ashamed of the flesh.
You faced life as it is,
And as it changes.
Some of us almost came to you, Father Malloy,
Seeing how your church had divined the heart,
And provided for it,
Through Peter the Flame,
Peter the Rock.
Yes,don Rocco, I wonder why …
Father of a community
From the blacksmith workshop to the Latin textbooks
to a limitless love for a great mission
Children clinging to his cassock
Young people educated to be someone
and to paint the world with confidence
A teaching for all
who loves never makes mistakes
An altar on earth for the questions of each
A joyful smile untouched by the years
Moments of grace
Smell of always
Father of us all
Now a surreal silence is screeching
sadness fills our hearts
Between weighted eyelashes a veil of nostalgia
hardly wipes away our tears
Only memories resound
and are echoed by our prayers
Thank you Don Rocco
Simply thank you
In memory of Don Rocco Piro - 7/3/2023
Most reverend Monsignor Piro, dear don Rocco, in this painful day as the President of the Catholic Action in Pignola I want to tell you that the entire community of Pignola kneels down to commemorate your death.
Since 1950 and for over 70 years you’ve taught us to live as a Christian; and I remember you at the beginning going around with a little old scooter to bring sacraments, help, solace to the inhabitants of our territory.
You’ve also led many young people that today are established professionals; as well, you’ve actively contributed to every aspect of the social life of our community.
Let me imagine that your very deep devotion to our patron Mary Most Holy of Angels has distracted your attention to other motivations: I’m sure you had the skills and competencies to reach high levels in the ecclesiastic career.
To Her we turn our prayer, sure of the sublime embrace She reserved for you.
The Pignola Catholic Action President
Pignola - March 8, 2023
“The original and amazing beauty of Pignola comes from the nature surrounding it and the progressive composition of the village in the centuries”
These words were used by Don Rocco to define Pignola, were he was born.
He was often recalling that he was the son of a blacksmith, who forged both the iron and the character of his children.
He knew that consciences of individuals need a lot of patience but a firm hand too.
He taught many young people to love their neighbor, telling them “when you love, you’ll never make a mistake”
Gently, never overcoming, he transmitted us the love for our Patron; and was full of joy recalling the June 27, 1965, when Her image was solemnly crowned.
To preserve our traditions he set up the “Equestrian Order of Knights Queen of Angels”; the school where he was teaching for many years put the flag at half-mast, and there has been an unceasing flow of people to the Main Church to pay homage to his coffin.
When a new mayor was appointed, he received his welcome; and his advices were always appreciated.
The new mayor that will be appointed in the next months will not receive his wishes; but I’m sure that from above in heaven “he will not miss the father’s smile”
DON ROCCO PIRO
For those few people who did not have the fortune to know him, and the day of his funeral were asking themselves who could be that person to collect so many people at the church, let’s give some biographical notes.
Rocco Saverio Vincenzo Piro was born in Pignola on 30 January 1924; achieved the high school in 1943 (liceum Orazio Flacco in Potenza).
During the bombing after September 8, 1943, together with other peers he gave assistance to the displaced that had taken shelter in the railway tunnels. On Sept. 25 he went to Rifreddo to tell the Canadian Command to stop the bombing, because there were no more German troops.
On 1 October 1945 he begins the theological flow at the seminary of Salerno, and his first solemn Mass happens on June 1949 in Pignola. He was also religion teacher in a public school in Potenza for nine years, and received the canonical possession of our Parish in 1961.
On June 19, 1999 he celebrated the Mass for the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination.
We could stop here, because in practice everybody here knew him very well and what he did.
Can you imagine how nice should be for a parish priest to baptize a child, follow him in the catechism, give the First Communion, then the Confirmation, and later to celebrate the wedding ? And sometime also the joy to have someone following his footsteps becaming a priest !
At the first mass of a new priest from Pignola he said: “A priest life is something really wonderful: it’s a so high ideal that cannot be compared to any other choice of freedom. When God calls, He breaks every door, bursts into the life of the chosen like a storm, and you can just say here I am”.
We cannot also forget to mention his extreme devotion to Our Lady of Angels; it's not easy to describe it, so it’s better to use the words don Rocco said at the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination:
“My praise and my thanks to the sweet Mother of my vocation: She led me by the hand, giving confidence and courage. To her I entrusted my ministry and the whole community of Pignola”
When reaching a certain age, people are retiring, but don Rocco never felt as a pensioner: until recently, knowing that don Antonio would have been absent one Sunday, he absolutely didn’t want “another” priest to replace him at the Mass. Sure, he had to be accompanied because of some leg problems, and we were preparing the Mass text with large print to avoid reading difficulties; but he was there, and his homilies were always poignant.
At funerals don Rocco talked about the departed using words representing a balm for the relatives; it's really sad to think that now he is the one getting a warm memory.
He was a sure reference point for everybody, teaching to look inward; he actively participated in the social life of the town, and also wrote some books containing precious information on popular piety.
We don't want to use here words like “don Rocco has left us”, because we’re sure that he will continue from heaven to take care of his sheep as he did during his tenure.
Once more, people of Pignola showed its huge sensibility in times of need: we’ve raised 600 € to help people affected by the earthquake in Syria and Turkey, and gave them to our Diocese.
I thank you for this and I bless you all.
don Antonio Laurita