“Returning to their hometown, where they had spent their childhood and early youth, must have been a project cultivated for a long time in the hearts of the servants of God”.
Almost 110 years after the departure of our Institute of the Benedictine Sisters of Divine Providence from Castel San Giovanni, with the same desire as our Foundresses, the General Government, in the person of the pro-tempore Superior General, Mother Clara Venturini, on 12 October 1998, returns to this land so significant for our history, with the opening of a Religious Community, made up of the Sisters: Stefania Ricaboni, Mihaela Butnaru and Tereza Medves. The Community of Castel San Giovanni has always been under the jurisdiction of the General Government; with the concrete support of the Provinces that send the Sisters and together with the Parish of St. John the Baptist, they make a precious service to the local Church.
Since 1998, many Benedictine Sisters have given and been giving their lives with tireless availability and openness to the needs of the parish and the people of Castello. Many of them keep in their memory and heart beautiful memories and significant testimonies of our Sisters and we, as the general government of the Congregation, praise and thank God for the silent and precious presence of these sisters of ours who, in the name of the Institute, have collaborated and collaborate in the realization of the Kingdom of God in this land. To each of them our endless thanks! They are: Stefania Ricaboni, Mihaela Butnaru, Tereza Medves, Barnabe Tomé, Liliana Lanza, Maria Boglis, Zaira Luiza Campos, Petronela Farcas, Everlyne M. Wanyama, Mildred L. Mushira, Lucia Gava, Andreina Squenna, Zita de Lorenzi Cancelier, Maria Gilceia da Silva, Beatrice M. Ndulia and Micaela Bertola. Sisters of all continents, of all races and ages, who speak different languages, but with the same love, this love that has always nourished the Religious Community and the mission carried out in this city.
Today Castel San Giovanni is experiencing a moment of greetings… our Sister Lucia Gava, who remained in the community for 9 years, is returning to Brazil, to her homeland. There are many expressions of affection and thanks for all the good that she has sown and planted in this land and in the hearts of so many people. We here report some of them, including her own testimony on her experience with the people of Castel San Giovanni:
“The years spent in Castelsangiovanni were a really good time, but now it’s time to go home”. Sister Lucia Gava leaves the parish of Castelsangiovanni after nine years. At the age of 74 she returns to her country, Brazil, to write the new chapter of a life entirely dedicated to others. “I’m not a person of great talents, but at Castello I felt welcomed in my simplicity,” she says. Actually, Sister Lucia has many talents. She can be considered the “godmother” of 300 small citizens of Castel San Giovanni. In fact, Sister Lucia took care, among other things, of preparing families to baptize their children. “This was a task that touched me the most,” says the nun who belongs to the order of the Benedictines of Divine Providence. “Every family leaves a profound mark – adds Sister Lucia –. Some have particular stories. I remember a couple who showed up after having a disabled child. They only knew this at the time of birth. I remember the sadness printed on the faces of the parents. Then the father told me that in any case, even if they had known it before, nothing would have changed for them. From that moment they opened and smiles appeared on their faces”. “In a few months – adds Sister Lucia – they will baptize their second child. Unfortunately I will not be there”. The departure for Brazil is in fact set for 11 July.
After a 30-hour journey, Sister Lucia will land in the state of Paraná. She will be destined for the outskirts of the capital, Curitiba. She will follow a social project for girls and children. In the past she had already taken care of street girls, also in Brazil, some of them with drug problems. “It was a very strong experience,” says Sister Lucia. During those years she too risked being killed.
“I learned of some uncomfortable truths. I learned that a gang had planned to kill me while I was shopping. Fortunately, many people helped me. Unfortunately in those places it is like that. They eliminate you”. In Brazil, Sister Lucia will find her family, eight brothers. The ninth, a sister who is also a nun, will remain in Italy. “We are a very close family – she says – I haven’t seen them for three years”.
Instead, he will leave his second family in Castello. Here I felt welcomed. “I have always tried to be available and I have found availability and affection from priests and people. In recent days, when they learned that I am leaving, they started to cry. But it is not me who is good, it is they who are beautiful people and then they see something good in me”. Sister Lucia took care of catechesis, she followed young couples, the elderly of the Albesani (Social Assistance Residence), the elderly alone. “With the elderly it was more difficult – she says – at first I was stuck. Then when the Pope said that that was the flesh of Christ then I understood and slowly it was simpler”. Tomorrow at 6 pm in the Collegiate there will be a greeting to Sister Lucia.
Dearest Sister Lucia,
I learned with sadness the news of her departure. I am sorry to lose such an important person for our community but I am sure that with her prayers she will support us and will always be close to us.
Personally, I have a precious reminder of his kind presence and always at the service of our community.
A warm hug and goodbye.
Lucia Fontana / Mayor of Castel San Giovanni
“I thank you for everything you have done for me, for us. We will soon meet again, even in our memories.
We will always remember you,
“The parish community of Castel San Giovanni greets and thanks Sr. Lucia Gava for the pastoral service carried out and for the beautiful testimony received in 9 years of stay. We give thanks to God! Have a good return to Brazil, sr. Lucia, let us always remember in the Lord!”
Sister Giovanna Morelli
A generous heart…
There are people who mark our lives, not for the long speeches they hold or for the ideologies they defend. They mark our lives for the choices they are able to make, for their flexibility and creativity in re-inventing themselves.
God only knows which door to knock on to make his plans come true. About 15 years ago the Lord had invited Sister Lucia Gava, with the same words he had addressed to Abraham: “Then the Lord came to Abraham and commanded him: ‘Get out of your land, your relatives and your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you! (…) you will be a blessing! ‘Obedient to this call, Sister Lucia went to serve the Congregation in distant lands from 2006 to 2021, becoming a blessing for those who lived with her.
The two mandates in the service of the General Government have certainly helped Sister Lucia to love our religious family even more. It was a time of joy, suffering and intercession for our Sisters and Communities in the most diverse realities that make up our Congregation.
We highlight, in a special way, the time of mission lived with the people of Castel San Giovanni, the birthplace of our Foundresses. With simplicity, discretion and great affection, Sister Lucia walked with the parishioners, as a sign of Divine Providence to those who needed it most. All this by bringing the Eucharistic Jesus into the homes of sick or infirm people, with the prayer of the Rosary in families, with preparation for the Sacraments, catechesis, conversations after Mass… with a solidary presence. We know that giving things to those who need them is always possible, but giving, for many years in a row, listening, advice, attention, affection, love… it belongs to those who know how to see another image of God.
Sister Lucia, the Mãe da Divina Providência Province welcomes you with great affection. You are welcome! We thank God for all these years of missionary experience in Europe, both at the service of the General Government and at the service of the Community of Castel San Giovanni. Welcome to your homeland, among your people and may you continue to serve God’s people with enthusiasm and dedication. I also thank the Giustina and Maria Schiapparoli Province and the General Government for the care, fraternity and opportunities that Sister Lucy has received over the years.
For everything, we give thanks to God!!!
Sister Maria José Barbosa dos Santos
Sister Lucia, may your life and your testimony continue to guide many hearts towards the loving and merciful heart of God. Thank you for all these years of dedication, commitment and fidelity to Religious Consecration and to our Congregation. Thank you for your tireless and committed donation for all the time you remained in Italy. We follow your return with our prayers and with a festive heart, because we are happy to have lived and shared a little of your life and your mission.
And, with the same words of our dear Mother Elena Arbasino, of venerable memory, spoken 85 years ago, we wish to accompany you to Brazil, to your homeland, to your people, to your new mission…
“Go in the name of the Lord!
Jesus calls you there, so that you may make him better known and loved, and you, available to the voice of the Beloved, do not hesitate to face the dangers of travel, difficulties, sacrifices, and… leave.
Go, therefore, you generous souls! Jesus is with you! Do not be afraid!
Go and give yourselves to the sick, to the youth, to the poor, to the orphans. Be everything to everyone, keeping your gaze fixed on your divine model ‘Jesus Crucified’! In any need, turn to the Eucharistic Jesus and from him you will get help, advice, comfort, courage. May your examples of virtue and your sacrifices be the fruitful seed of numerous conversions, of chosen vocations.
The good Lord bless you and guide you; Holy Mary and the patron saints assist you; the Guardian Angel accompany you; May Divine Providence always protect you and help you to reach your goal, to reap abundant fruits in your holy apostolate. DEO GRATIAS! “
The Lord bless you and accompany you!
THE GENERAL GOVERNMENT
 CONSOLINI, Dott.ssa Francesca. Positio Super Vita, Virtutibus et Fama Sanctitatis. Iustinae Schiapparoli. 2000. pg. 185.
 Mariangela Milani of the Newspaper Libertà / CASTELSANGIOVANNI, released on 03 July 2021.
 Letter from the Mayor of Castel San Giovanni, dated 07 July 2021.
 To maintain privacy, we have only transcribed part of the letter.
 Message published on the WhatsApp group of the GMS Province on 05 July 2021.