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"You can feel the emotions experienced. It's like hearing these events in person"


"I knew nothing of these stories. Now I am aware that something important has happened far from here"

Priest from Italy

"It is not easy to say what I felt reading every page, sometimes intense emotions, sometimes less, but I can say with certainty that it transmits strength to go on.
Reading about all these people, about many Italians who have been catapulted into Canadian lands, far away from their homes and learning what they had to go through..., I am impressed and amazed "


"La Voce"

Rocco Di Serio has made it SERIOUSLY: "History off TEOPOLI: the city of God", an entrepreneur full of enthusiasm and ability not only entrepreneurial, but also intellectual, realizing his dream to let thousands of people share the story of TEOPOLI.

The case of the sanctity of Sister Carmelina


Twenty-seven years after her death, Sr. Carmelina Tarantino is about to move one step closer to sainthood.
At a memorial Mass on March 27, it will be announced that a 10-year investigation into Sr. Carmelina’s cause for sainthood is set to close, and the Archdiocese of Toronto and the Passionist Sisters of St. Paul of the Cross are finalizing 10,000 pages of documents to send later this year to the Vatican.
“This city has housed a saint. There is no doubt in my mind,” said Fr. Claudio Piccinini, who was Sr. Carmelina’s spiritual director and confidant. 
Piccinni said Sr. Carmelina was “a living saint” who gave “her life to this city and this country.” Her presence changed Toronto, he believes, by the way the she captured the hearts and minds of thousands of people in the 1970s and 1980s. 
Despite being bedridden and enduring painful daily treatments in hospital throughout most of her adult life, the gentle Passionist Sister constantly welcomed visitors and prayed for their healing. When she died on March 21, 1992, a campaign began almost immediately for her sainthood.
The 10,000 pages that will be sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome will be a comprehensive examination of Sr. Carmelina’s life.
Among hundreds of testimonials collected by Carpinelli are stories of conversion and renewed devotion. Some people claim to have experienced miracles after she prayed with them.
Piccinini recalled one case in particular.
“She was crying like I haven’t seen anybody cry,” said Piccinini, telling the story of a woman who had just been told by her doctor that she was unable to have children. Piccinini counselled the woman and promised to ask Sr. Carmelina to pray for her. He called her that night. 
“She said, ‘Tell the lady that she will have a baby,’ ” Piccinini recalled. “If she had said the opposite, I would’ve been more comfortable.” 
Reluctantly, Piccinini called the woman and relayed Sr. Carmelina’s promise. A couple months passed, and then the woman came to Piccinini and said she was pregnant. Her doctors were astounded. 
Piccinini says he knows dozens of stories like this. 
In a sainthood cause, only miracles that occur after the subject’s death are considered. But Piccinini believes it is only a matter of time until we learn that God choose to reveal His grace through Sr. Carmelina.
On July 4, 1964, 27-year-old Carmelina Tarantino was brought to Toronto from Naples, Italy, by her brothers and sister who were worried about her health. Canadian doctors suspected she had a rare type of cancer. They amputated her left leg, parts of her right leg and she had a mastectomy. Her hospital blanket was canopied over her body to avoid the blanket becoming stained by her bloodied bandages, which had to be changed every few hours as her wounds refused to heal.
Doctors said she had only months to live, but she endured for 24 years, bedridden in Room 306 West at Riverdale Hospital (now Bridgeport Health).
In conversation one day, she mentioned to Piccinini how she had wanted to become a religious sister since the age of 10 or 11. He asked her if she retained that desire, even though, he recalls now, “I knew the stupidity of the question because in her condition, you couldn’t become a sister.”
But she looked at him with a mortified expression and replied: “Are you making fun of me?” 
She said becoming a religious sister would be the greatest day of her life. In that moment, Piccinini decided to do whatever was in his power to help her. 
He approached the general mother superior of the Passionist Sisters and told her of Carmelina’s unique story. On Nov. 26, 1977, 40-year-old Sr. Carmelina was professed in her hospital room as the first Passionist Sister in Toronto. A community of Passionist Sisters was officially established years later in 1981. 
Many who visited her believed she was a saint because of the way she accepted her suffering. She met everyone with a warm smile and a joyful attitude. The hospital gave her a private phone line so people could call her directly. Others waited up to nine months for an appointment to visit her in person. 
Frank Tedesco was 58 years old when he met Sr. Carmelina in 1983. Now 93, he remembers their meeting like it was yesterday. He learned of her story from hearing Piccinini preach about suffering at the Teopoli Catholic Spiritual Centre in Gravenhurst, Ont. 
Whenever Piccinini told her story, people would ask to visit the gentle nun who bore her suffering as a gift from God. 
“I went with my family, my two kids and wife,” said Tedesco who lives in Etobicoke, Ont. “I cannot describe the feeling I got when I walked in the door and seeing a lady, sick in bed with so much energy. The hospital room was filled with religious articles everywhere. Sr. Carmelina was so happy to see me.”
In their first meeting, Sr. Carmelina gave him a rosary. Tedesco visited the bedridden nun about two or three times a year. She became a family friend who encouraged him to stay close to the Church. 
“I wish everyone could have met her,” said Tedesco. “She appreciated her suffering and she said it was a gift from God. She never complained about being sick.”
As her spiritual director and close confidant, Piccinini visited every week. He watched her receive morphine shots every six hours, suffer constant fevers and endure frequent blood transfusions because her wounds would not heal. She kept a journal.
“So when I asked that question about her diary, I was interested in knowing what she was writing,” he said. “She should be telling the whole world, this is what’s happening to me and this is how I’m going to handle it, which was miraculous.”
About 4,000 pages of her personal writings and almost 300 hours of recorded conversations have been included among the 10,000 documents in her cause for sainthood. All the documents are under a pontifical seal of secrecy as the archdiocese makes its formal application.
After Sr. Carmelina’s dossier is received in Rome, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints can choose to reject it or accept it and begin its own investigation of her life. She has held the title of “Servant of God” since her caused for sainthood was launched. 
The next step in the long path to sainthood is to be declared “Venerable.” This is done by the Pope if the Congregation confirms that the person has lived a life that is “heroic in virtue.” 
After that, in order to be beatified and declared “Blessed,” a miracle attributable to her intercession must be confirmed. A second miracle is required before someone is declared a saint.
The March 27 memorial Mass in Sr. Carmelina’s name will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the original parish of the Passionist Sisters, St. Paschal Baylon Church in Thornhill, Ont.

From Every Day For Life Canada
"Family Celebration Dinner" 2018


On Sunday we attended the Teopoli Family Celebration Dinner. The festivities appropriately took place on the same day that the liturgy marks the solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe. The event is the work of the Catholic group called Societa Unita, the United Society, that formed back in 1969. Fr. Claudio Piccinini, C.P. was the one who founded the organization. It will soon mark the 50th anniversary. The goal of the members is to learn more about the faith, celebrate it and build the common good. The United Society promotes solidarity through family programs, faith events and other activities. In 1972, the Society bought 200 acres of land in Gravenhurst. The property is located some 185 km north of Toronto. It's was named Teopoli, after the Greek meaning, City of God. The idea was to use the land to hold religious events to promote and strengthen the faith. This has been done over the many through retreats, pilgrimages, the summer program for children, Mass celebrations and days of prayer and worship.
The reader may not have heard of this Catholic organization but it's little known groups like this that help build the faith, strengthen family life and promote Christian solidarity. It's not front page news. However, it's the kind of news that stays news for many people. The United Society is doing the evagelization work that was done by faith groups like Catholic Action. The time has come to revive these faith formative past apostolic efforts.
Some of the spiritual highlights of the last 50 years are worth noting. On October 1, 2007, the Archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Collins, officially began the process for the cause of canonization of Sister Carmelina of the Cross, C.P. (Carmelina Tarantino). She has a unique connection to the United Society. In 1973, Sr. Carmelina met Fr. Claudio Piccinini, a Passionist Catholic priest. Fr. Claudio is the one who started the United Society as well as the Teopoli Catholic Spiritual Center in Gravenhurst. Sr. Carmelina decided to join the apostolate. Fr. Claudio became her confessor and spiritual director from 1976 until Sr. Carmelina died. It was Fr. Claudio that urged her to write a diary about her vocational life and missionary work done during her time spent in the hospital.
Then in 1977, on Carmelina’s behalf Fr. Claudio contacted the Passionist Sisters in Rome to see if she could take her vows to join the order. The Passionist Sisters asked the Holy See and the request was soon granted. Mother Edoarda Achille, the Superior General of the Passionist Sisters of St. Paul of the Cross, received Carmelina into the community on November 26, 1977, at the Riverdale Hospital. Carmelina professed the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and the fourth vow that is particular to the Passionists — promoting remembrance of the passion and death of Jesus in the minds and hearts of the faithful. Sr. Carmelina was extremely happy to have become a Passionist Sister. This led to the establishment of an institute of the Passionist Sisters in Toronto in 1981. Sr. Carmelina may soon become the first saint from the city of Toronto.
The United Society holds weekend pilgrimages and runs the summer camp for young people at Teopoli. Other initiatives have included bringing a relic of St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother to Toronto in an effort to promote the faith and Gospel values among the young. They also have had devotions to Our lady Guadeloupe, Jesus the Listener and the Stations of the Cross. Mass is celebrated at most weekend events.
There is a large cross at Teopoli with special significance. The inspiration to erect a cross at Teopoli, surrounded by rivers, waterfalls, trees, rocks, flowers, grass, fish, birds, and beavers, came from Sister Carmelina C.P. The cross stands as a symbol of our creation and redemption; the culmination of prayer and the sign of love that saves the world.

A full length image of the Shroud of Turin was brought to Toronto and exhibited in many local churches. The shroud is said to be the linen cloth bearing the negative image of a man who is Christ. The original is housed in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin. The cloth itself is believed by many to be the burial shroud that Jesus was wrapped in when he was buried after his crucifixion.
In addition, there's Radio Teopoli, a radio program on 530am in Toronto, that is being used to instruct, spread the Gospel message and the charitable works of the United Society. Another activity is Il Buon Samaritano, The Good Samaritan. The members collect used clothing, food and furniture to help others in need. Volunteers with the Good Samaritan group offer their talents by knitting and sewing gloves, scarves, hats and other clothing that is sold to raise money to support Teopoli.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of a book, Storia di Teopoli: La Citta di Dio (The Story of Teopoli: the City of God) by Alessandro Zattiero. The first edition was published in Italian, but it will soon be translated into English. The book is filled with the numerous testimonies of selected people who have been members of the Society. Zattiero has interviewed them and records their stories. It's a record of the experiences of Society members and the important personal meaning of belonging to a group based on faith, prayer and following Christ.
We end this post with the prayer for Sr. Carmelina's canonization and two special spiritual quotes from her: The first one is "Oh Jesus, suffering has been my joy, the gift that allowed me to meet you," And the second, "I am ready to take up all the sufferings you will ask me, out of the love I have for you." Sr. Carmelina is God's beautiful gift to humanity. God willing, she will soon become Toronto's first saint met by several members of the United Society.
This is the prayer for her canonization: "O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in your providential love you chose that Sr. Carmelina Tarantino of the Cross may be intimately united to the suffering of your beloved Son on the Cross and that filled with apostolic zeal she might offer with joy her life as an holocaust for your glory and the salvation of souls. We humbly ask you to glorify her in your Church on earth. We implore you through her intercession to grant us the grace we ask in faith." Happy 50th anniversary to the United Society. 

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