Just as the last time the Archbishop visited the Barga area, the seemingly continuous rains paused, and the sun shone for the day. The Bishop of the Archdiocese of Pisa, Monsignor Giovanni Paolo Benotto, on Sunday paid his pastoral visit and first held Mass at Sommocolonia, where he performed the rites of confirmation of a group among which were 4 adults, he then traveled to the Chiesa di San Giusto at Tiglio Alto, and celebrated Mass there.
The liturgy for this Sunday was Second Kings 5:14-17. The Syrian leper Naaman, when instructed to bathe himself in the river Jordan, was cured and returned to give thanks. Monsignor Benotto focused on the theme of thanksgiving and gratitude with small gestures. It isn’t necessary to make grand gestures, he continued, paying visits to the care-home means nothing if you do not take the time to care for your own elderly relatives, for instance, he remarked. Even the smallest gestures we make count, perhaps more so for being in earnest.
After Mass he went down to Canale to pay a special visit to an ailing person of the community.
The Archdiocese of Pisa includes 127 parishes of which Tiglio represents the highest point in altitude with Renaio at over 1700 meters. Just below Renaio at Pegnana luncheon was served in the community center with the Archbishop, and Don Stefano of Barga in attendance.
Representatives of the churches within the parish spoke of their work in the support and preservation of the small churches at Tiglio Basso, Le Seggiane, Renaio, and Pegnana. There was a special plea from Monte Bono, the small community which no longer has regular celebrations of Mass by Don Cola as they once did and senses his absence.
The luncheon was organized as a benefit for a group of Syrian Catholics with a Monastery which is now helping refugees of all faiths from the Syrian conflict. Mary Campbell of Tiglio has long worked with the group and lends her support regularly. She made a presentation of images from their work. All of the monies collected on Sunday in church and at the luncheon will go to the Monastery.
Monsignor Giovanni Paolo Benotto took this opportunity to speak of community and its importance in today’s society, citing the excellent example of the Parish of Tiglio with which he has a special connection having spent time in Tiglio Alto as a young child. His long standing connection and support of Don Giuseppe Cola is close and clearly earnest as well.
In a parallel mold to Pope Francis, Monsignor Benotto seems to be of humble character and modest habits, driving himself to his parishes and obviously enjoying and expressing delighted gratitude for the simplest of meals and gifts of the local produce which were offered by the community in simply beautiful surroundings near the highest point overlooking his Diocese.
Article by Kerry Bell