Monday, March 31, 2008

LDS in Italy


LDS in Italy

Post 4

The Ferrara branch no longer exists and I am no longer a traveling branch president. In March 2008 in a surprise move a new stake was formed in Northwest Italy. From the existing Venice/Italy stake two stakes and two districts were reorganized to create a New Stake. The Milan stake absorbed the Como district with the branches of Como, Varese, Busto D’Astizio and Lugano, Switzerland, and gave up two wards at Bergamo which together with Brescia Berona, Bussolengo, Trento, Bolzano, Modena, Mantova and Reggio Emilia make up the new Verona Italy Stake. For those not familiar with Italian geography Verona is the city that Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet was located. A lovely city traversed by the Reno River. The Trieste district, including Triest, Gorizia, Udine and Pordenone were annexed into the remaining towns of the old Venice stake of Vicenza, Padova, Mestre(Venice), Treviso and Bologna. There are two US servicemen units in this stake one at Aviano (Pordenone), which is the largest ward in the stake and a branch at Vicenza (most of the branch are deployed in either Afghanistan or Iraq). Even though the stake was divided to reduce the extension of the stake, the new Venice stake goes from Triest to Bologna which is a good three hour drive.

Since a stake has to have a minimum of five wards the branch of Ferrara with its 20 active members was suppressed and adsorbed into the Bologna branch to create the Bologna ward. Since Ferrara is about 45 minutes away from Bologna this means that the members there have to travel at least that far and some who lived in the province of Ferrara now travel more than an hour and twenty minutes to go to church. Unfortunately at Ferrara there were several elderly sister who are unable to make the trip and thus can go to church only occasionally. If blessings are according to sacrifice, these will be very blessed people as once again their faith is put to the test.

I of course was left without a job. I went from being a branch president to being suppressed during stake conference. Not even released just suppressed! I spent a wonderful year with the members of Ferrara. We had created a spirit of great unity in the branch mainly through our monthly branch luncheons. Every fourth Sunday the whole branch stayed after the meetings. Every person brought something to eat and something extra and we would spend the afternoon eating and talking together. Meanwhile we had the branch council meeting (which involved about half the branch), welfare meeting and priesthood executive meeting. Those not involved in the meeting cleaned up and then sat around talking of whatever. These luncheons became famous in the stake and stake leaders would “drop by” on the fourth Sunday of the month. We also reactivated several members who came regularly at least the fourth Sunday of the month, and it was the favorite Sunday for investigators too.. Much of the merit goes to the several members who worked in the restaurant business. We have one member, Leonardo Cataluddi, who teaches cooking in a restaurant school. His wife is just as good, and my wife, Fernanda, was known for her desserts. Our average attendance during the month was 18, which would jump to 26 or 18 on the fourth Sunday. This with many other memories will stay with me forever. Below is a photo of one of our luncheons.

6 comments:

Anne Bradshaw said...

Thanks for an interesting post. Most interesting. I always think of Italy as not having many LDS members, but this sounds like they have many. It's a place I'd love to visit one day.

Marsha Ward said...

Change is always somewhat jarring. I hope the members will find a way to do the traveling necessary to attend church. I know from the experiences of our new members (our branch was recently expanded to include members who live 19 miles away), they have received promised blessings for making the sacrifice to attend with us.

Thank you for your service. I hope you feel appreciated for all you've done, especially by Heavenly Father.

Tamster said...

I am fortunate that the city we live in is where the ward building is. The ward I am in covers a very large boundary--the furthest being about a 2 hour drive, I think, although I'm not sure that any of those people come very often. Our stake is an hour away in Amarillo, TX, and it stretches into New Mexico even. I've never lived in an area so spread out like this before, so it takes some getting used to. I'm just glad that I'm not one of the ones who has to drive so far just for church each week. I wouldn't want to miss church, but I don't see how it would be financially feasible to drive a great distance every week. I feel blessed. Thank you for your posts. You'll have to let us know when they put you to work again and what they have you doing! :-)

Doug Johnston said...

I lived in Madrid, Spain when I was MUCH younger. I am going to date myself, but it was when we went to Sunday school in the morning and came back for Sacrament in the evening. We lived 21 miles from the branch, and we traveled both ways twice every Sunday by bus and subway.

dolores said...

Hello,

I am currently living in Sicily and am interested in information on LDS units (servicemen's) in Aviano. I have been searching in vain for contact information so that I may have some questions answered. If you have any contact information for me, please email me at vschmutzstreeter@hotmail.com
Thank you

Wilson Family said...

WE are considering moving to Vicenza. We are looking for any information about the LDS church there. Can you help? Please email me at kamalodad@hotmail.com

Thanks.
Chance Wilson
Incirlik Turkey
LDS Branch President