CALTANISSETTA. The announcement of the election of Mons.Giuseppe La Placa as new Bishop of the Diocese of Ragusa, at the end of the Pontifical of St. Michael by the Bishop Mons.Mario Russotto, aroused a standing ovation in the Cathedral at the maximum possible capacity and much joyful appreciation among the hundreds of faithful who followed the live stream.
A son of our Nissen Church was chosen by the Holy Father to strengthen those historical and spiritual ties that have linked the two ecclesial communities for over a century: from the Venerable Mons.Giovanni Jacono da Ragusa, Bishop of Caltanissetta from 1921 to 1956, to Mons. Angelo Rizzo, of Montedoro, Bishop of Ragusa from 1974 to 2002, to our Bishop Mons.Mario Russotto who has led the Diocese since 2003.
The link between these two sister Churches was the leitmotif both of the intervention of Bishop Mario immediately before the announcement, and of the greeting-thanks of Mons. La Placa, at the end of the celebration.
«It all started with Mons. Guttadauro – began Bishop Mario – who wanted here his nephew Giuseppe Francica Nava, who grew up in our seminary, priest incardinated in our diocese, rector of the seminary and auxiliary bishop, then archbishop and cardinal of Catania. There he welcomed that young man wishing to become a priest, to whom Syracuse had closed the doors because he was poor, welcomed Giovanni Jacono, coming from Ragusa. And Giovanni Jacono, exactly a century ago, in 1921 was sent by the Pope to Caltanissetta as Bishop, successor of the Venerable Antonio Augusto Intreccialagli.
In these hundred years, many stories have been written by the pen of men with the ink of the Spirit. In 1974 a son of this Church, Mons. Angelo Rizzo, was appointed Bishop of Ragusa: it was the Bishop who raised me, he ordained me a priest; and so in 2003 Ragusa returned the gift, and I was appointed Bishop of Caltanissetta.
Thus, in this last decade, the Lord has like designed a Pentateuch of grace. First three Venerables: Marianna Amico Roxas, Giovanni Jacono, Angelico Lipani; and after having brought Mons. Jacono back here to the Cathedral, two other extraordinary graces, which I consider miracles of God’s benevolence through Mons. Jacono to this Church of his. Two caresses: last year, Mons. Francesco Lomanto elected Archbishop of Syracuse, today another son of this Church is going to settle the score with Ragusa; after one hundred years from the arrival of a bishop from Ragusa to Caltanissetta, God chooses a son of this Church as bishop of Ragusa, in the person of my Vicar General Mons. Giuseppe La Placa ”.
The emotion and pride of a Pastor for a Church that grows in the words of Bishop Mario:
«God’s designs are always mysterious, sometimes we are unable to unravel ourselves with those subtle threads of grace that He is weaving in our history; and in this mystery our life is imbued with suffering and joy and just when you feel that your soul is gripped by so many sufferings, by so many pains, trusting abandonment in God opens glimmers of grace and illuminates our heart immensely.
We have drawn up our Pastoral Guidelines until 2029 and step by step this little great Church, not because we wanted it, but thanks to the priests, to whom my embrace and my gratitude go, thanks to the men and women religious, thanks to you. , children of the laity, little by little this diocesan Church has risen to the chair.
I say this with the humility of someone who knows they have no merit, but I say it with pride, the pride of the Pastor of this Diocese of Nyssa, this territory, in the center of our island, often abandoned, neglected, trampled, derided, humiliated. In this territory our Diocese has become a teacher, I repeat, I say this with the pride of being your Bishop, because it is your merit, teacher of spiritual and pastoral life. And therefore praise must be given to God: we are not always in the last places. I say this by declaring the merit of my priests, declaring the merit of you lay faithful: this Church has made school in Italy. He continues to teach, because he has never sought things beyond his strength, he never wanted to boast of anything, if not of his own smallness.
And let us continue to register God’s favor, to welcome his benevolent gaze, on this little bride of his, whom he has looked upon, in humility and humiliation, but in the fidelity of her condition, of her fearless Yes to God. and history“.
Great emotion in the words of thanks of the Bishop-elect Mons.La Placa, for all Don Pino, who in his 15 years as Vicar spoke with welcoming cordiality with all the expressions of the ecclesial community and with wise intelligence with a large part of the civil society of the territory :
«On April 29 last, the Apostolic Nuncio to Italy wanted to meet me in Rome to inform me that the Holy Father Pope Francis had appointed me Bishop of the Diocese of Ragusa. You can imagine the trepidation and the turmoil of feelings that those words unleashed in my heart. I am perfectly aware of the unbridgeable gap between the greatness of the call received and the poverty of my humanity and my response; nevertheless it gives me comfort and strength to know, having experienced it in these 35 years of priesthood, that the Lord, good and beautiful shepherd of our souls, will continue to take on this poor humanity of mine and use it to manifest the power of his love and to communicate his grace and salvation to those whom he entrusts to me today ”.
Infinite gratitude to the Lord, filial thanks to Pope Francis, in the greeting of Bishop Joseph and a thought for his new Church that he was called to lead:
«First of all I would like to greet and bless the Church which the Lord has given me in marriage and which I already feel I love, just as I loved the one that generated me in faith. a warm greeting to the dearest and most esteemed Mons. Carmelo Cuttitta, to the priests and deacons of my new Diocese: I have already entrusted them to the Lord and I prayed for each of them at the tomb of St. Peter, together with the clergy I greet the holy people of God, in all its variegated expressions: I come to you in simplicity of heart, in the name of the Lord, to serve your joy.
An affectionate thanks to our Bishop Mario, for the testimony of faith with which he has illuminated the believing path of the Nissen Church in recent years. Thank you for the trust you have shown me by calling me to be your close collaborator, first as pro-vicar general, alongside the beloved Mons. Liborio Campione and then as Vicar general.
They were beautiful and intense years in which I received from him the precious testimony of a service to the Church rendered daily, with generous passion and loving dedication.
In the mysterious plots of love that the Lord weaves for the salvation of his children, this appointment of mine, as has been mentioned, extends and strengthens the chain of grace between our two sister Churches.
May the Lord who called me to be a link in this chain guide me with the action of his spirit, infusing me with a little of the wisdom and holiness of life of these venerated and beloved shepherds..“
He had a word of affectionate thanks for all Mons, La Placa, laity and religious, and above all for the “dear brothers in the priesthood, for the gift of your friendship and for the priestly communion that we have lived together, those present and those who Lord has already called to himself. Among these, a grateful remembrance goes to Mons.Garsia, the Bishop who ordained me a priest and in particular I wish to remember the pastor of my parish of origin, Father Arcangelo Tumminaro, who was the first to see the signs of my vocation to the priesthood.“.
Mons.Giuseppe La Placa, 58, Vicar General e Moderator Curiae of the Diocese, he has been a priest since 1986, in 1993 he obtained a Licentiate in Theoretical Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University and teaches Systematic Philosophy at the Theological Institute “Guttadauro” and Philosophy at the Liceo Classico “P. Mignosi “. He has been His Holiness’s Chaplain since 2009, has a vast and profound pastoral experience, both in the parish communities and as Director and Assistant of various Diocesan Offices.
The care of communication has characterized his commitment in recent years. Author of various publications, freelance journalist, he is editor-in-chief of the diocesan periodical “L’Aurora”, of the “Monitore Diocesano” (official organ of the Episcopal Curia) and of the “Guttadauro” magazine of the diocesan Theological Institute.
Director of the Diocesan Press Office, he looked after relations with the world of information with cultural openness and relational wisdom, further qualifying the presence of the Diocese and its activities in the mass media.
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