As the sun heralded the arrival of the fourth day, our journey took us to the picturesque town of Cassano allo Ionio. Here, amidst the warm embrace of the community, we were welcomed by none other than the esteemed Mayor, Giovanni Papasso. Gathered alongside were the bright faces of countless children from both the city and Sibari, lending their youthful energy to the day's proceedings.
A pivotal moment awaited us as we listened to the heartfelt and inspiring words of His Excellency, Francesco Savino, Vice President of the Italian Episcopal Conference. His message resonated deeply, reminding us that the seeds of peace are sown in the fertile soil of our everyday lives. He stressed the urgent need for Peace education in Calabria, serving as a powerful antidote to the siren call of youth deviance, which can inadvertently nurture the roots of organized crime.
In his address, there was a poignant reference to the backdrop of contemporary international conflicts, often relegated to the shadows of media coverage. He drew attention to the Holy Father's wise counsel, advocating for dialogue as the ultimate solution and cautioning against taking sides in the theater of war.
Our distinguished panel of speakers enriched the day's discourse with their wisdom and passion:
- Adriana Grispo\, the dedicated Coordinator of the program\, illuminated our path.
- Antonio Giannelli\, President of Colors for Peace\, added his visionary perspective to the dialogue.
- Alfredo De Joannon\, President of Peace Run Italia\, shared his dreams for a more harmonious world.
- Mario Gallo\, Secretary to the Presidency of Colors for Peace\, lent his steady hand to the cause.
In Cassano allo Ionio, the heart of Calabria, we found ourselves in the company of leaders and dreamers, of young minds eager to embrace the ideals of peace. It was a day that reinforced the belief that peace is not an abstract concept but a living, breathing force that begins within each of us. Together, we took a step closer to a world where harmony and understanding reign supreme, where the whispers of peace echo louder than the drums of conflict.
Our final destination in the remarkable "Calabria Land of Peace and Brotherhood" program was a place steeped in history and resilience – the former Ferramonti di Tarsia internment camp. This camp, the largest constructed during the era of Fascism, holds a unique place in history. To quote the wise words of Monsignor Francesco Savino, Vice President of the CEI, here, "humanity was not shipwrecked." It was a place where the indomitable spirit of humanity shone, and where, thanks to the compassion of the Calabrians, the internees may have lost their freedom but never their dignity.
As we arrived at this poignant location, we were greeted by a consortium of esteemed hosts and dignitaries who shared a deep commitment to the cause of peace. Among them were the Mayor of Tarsia, Roberto Ameruso, and the Councilor for Culture, Roberto Cannizzaro, who wore the dual hats of hosts and leaders of the Municipality. Teresina Ciliberti, the Director of the "Ernst Bernhard" Literary Park, and Luciana De Francesco, the Delegated Regional Councilor appointed by President De Francesco, lent their presence to this significant occasion.
From the ecclesiastical realm, we were honored to have in our midst the Vicar General of the Archbishop of Rossano-Cariati, Monsignor Pino Straface, and the Parish Priest of Tarsia, Don Cosimo Galizia. These spiritual leaders added a profound dimension to our gathering, underscoring the universal call for peace.
Beyond Tarsia, the mayors and representatives of the neighboring municipalities of Spezzano Albanese, San Lorenzo del Vallo, Terranova da Sibari, Montegiordano, Rocca Imperiale, and Bisignano enthusiastically embraced the "Calabria Land of Peace and Brotherhood" program by pledging their support.
In this assembly, the school world was well represented, with Director Maria Cinzia Pantusa standing as a beacon of education. The associations were also represented by Maria Stille, President of the Rotary Club of San Marco Argentano.
However, the true stars of the day were the children and young people from the local comprehensive schools – Terranova da Sibari, Tarsia, and San Lorenzo del Vallo. These young hearts brimmed with hope and enthusiasm as they conveyed greetings from their Headmaster, Maria Letizia Belmonte. Through their voices, they serenaded us with songs and adorned our hearts with their drawings, a preview of what our exhibitions will soon hold.
As we bid farewell to the land of Calabria, a place that has given us so much, from its revered saints to its warm-hearted people, we were reminded that even today, this land continues to extend its generous heart to the noble cause of peace. It was a poignant conclusion to our journey, a reminder that the spirit of unity and peace endures, transcending time and place.