Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Distributism in Italy

Marco Sermarini reports from Italy:

On Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 October 2012 we were in Norcia in Umbria for a two-day meeting that had two main purposes. (1) It marked the beginning of our "Opera [Works] G. K. Chesterton" (the union of all cooperatives, school, sporting association, etc... under the umbrella of the local Catholic movement “Compagnia dei Tipi Loschi del beato Pier Giorgio Frassati”). (2) It was a meeting of all the cooperatives that have been developing as part of our national network, the “Associazione Santa Caterina da Siena”.

It has become a tradition with us to come together like this in significant places. Norcia is one of our favourites, not just because of the beauty of nature but because of the presence of the Benedictine monks and the magnitude of what was born from St. Benedict’s inspiration. We met with Fr. Benedict Nivakoff OSB, the vice-prior of the monastery of Norcia (the prior is Fr. Cassian Folsom OSB). As men, women, children, pupils, and workers, we who form part of these movements are dedicated to mutual help and the construction of the Catholic Church through our everyday life, making us less reliant on the banks, the government, and the large commercial institutions.

Our organization is named after Gilbert Keith Chesterton because of his clarity in describing these objectives and in providing solid, practical solutions (we believe that Distributism is one such practical solution, even only a few have seriously tried to make it happen). It started almost nineteen years ago with an after-school service to help the families of our Catholic movement to face the challenges of education, and now it includes in its activities a middle school (for 11- to 13-year-old pupils), a high school (for 14-19 year old pupils), a cooperative for the disadvantaged, a management cooperative, a sports club, a service of mutual support among families, and many other things.

“Opera G.K. Chesterton” is a founder member of a nationwide network of similar institutions, whose name is “Santa Caterina da Siena”. (St. Catherine of Siena said: “if you are what you should be, you will set fire to all of Italy” – a challenging but fascinating motto). This network has found interest and support among the monks of Norcia. This year we gathered around 350 people from all over Italy. The Italian Chesterton Society is an active member of this network.

Fr. Benedict Nivakoff lectured in the Civic Theater about the link between education and work, starting from the Rule of St. Benedict and their everyday work in the monastery, including a newborn brewery (producing Birra Nursia).

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