Fraternity of St. Charles priests look forward to serving at St. Peter in North St. Paul

| July 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

Father Ettore Ferrario of the Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo greets T.J. Trembley and his wife, Kateri, after Mass at St. Peter in North St. Paul July 2. In the foreground is the couple’s daughter, Maeva. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Having met Christ in the midst of community, Italian priests Father Ettore Ferrario and Father Pietro Rossotti hope to lead the people of St. Peter in North St. Paul to a similar encounter as they begin their ministry at the 128-year-old parish.

The priests, members of the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, live in community and focus on serving the laity. A third priest, Father Daniele Scorrano, will join them in August.

Father Ferrario, who will serve as pastor, said they want get to “know the people and them to know us” and “enrich each other as we set upon our way of living in communion.” He added that the parish has “big and generous history” which they look forward to learning more about.

Also called the Fraternity of St. Charles or “the Fraternity,” the apostolic society serves worldwide with more than 25 missions, including Washington, D.C., where Father Ferrario and Father Rossotti most recently served. Father Scorrano has been serving in Italy.

Bishop Massimo Camisasca founded the Fraternity as a priest in 1985, and it became a Society of Apostolic Life in 1989. The Fraternity also credits its inspiration to the lay Catholic movement Communion and Liberation and its founder, Father Luigi Giussani.

Father Ferrario, 41, who joined the Fraternity after involvement in Communion and Liberation. A native of Milan, Italy, he grew up Catholic but said his family wasn’t engaged in a parish.

“I met Christ again seriously in the experience of Communion and Liberation [during] my high school studies thanks to a teacher,” Father Ferrario said.

Father Ferrario later met a priest from the Fraternity, who encouraged him in pursuing the priesthood. He put aside his studies in pharmaceutical chemistry at the State University of Milan to join Fraternity and was ordained in 2005.

He has since served in Paraguay and Kenya before coming to the U.S. He last served as associate pastor at Christ the King in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Also a native of Milan, Father Rossotti, 37, grew up with parents he described as having a simple and strong faith. Father Rossotti said his faith later deepened when a high school professor challenged him on his beliefs.

“I was forced to study, be more involved with [the question] ‘What’s this relation with faith and reason?,” Father Rossotti said.

In college, Father Rossotti became involved in Communion and Liberation, which further deepened his faith in personally encountering Christ through the community, he said. After meeting priests from the Fraternity, he decided to join and was ordained in 2009.

He first ministered in Boston after ordination in 2009 before going to Washington, D.C. He most recently taught at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Father Scorrano, 38, grew up in southern Italy and taught history and philosophy at a high school in Bologna. He recognized a call to priesthood during that time and joined the Fraternity. After ordination in 2013, he served in Reggio Emilia, Italy where he served young families and as secretary for Fraternity founder Monsignor Massimo Camisasca, the Bishop of Reggio Emilia.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda invited the Fraternity to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis after a recommendation from Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Boston archdiocese. Both Archbishop Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens met priests of the Fraternity while living in Rome. Archbishop Hebda and Bishop Cozzens announced the news to the parish via a letter in May.

Though he had no say in the decision, Roger Vasko, a St. Peter parish trustee for 25 years, said he believes this transition will benefit the parish, particularly with the potential for stability. Diocesan priests who serve as pastors typically move every six years in the archdiocese.

“It takes him a year, year-and-a-half before he can make any changes, so that means that that priest only effectively manages that parish for four-and-half years or so,” said Vasko, also a member of St. Peter’s finance council. “When you have an order that doesn’t leave, there’s going to be more consistency as far as managing the parish even if they change pastors, because they’re going to have the same philosophy and same type of ideas.”

The Fraternity has a focus on forming and educating the laity, and all three priests serving at St. Peter’s have taught high school or college. St. Peter principal Alison Dahlman looks forward to their presence in the parish’s pre-K-8 school.

“I definitely get the impression that they are very involved in helping to form that [Catholic] culture and very interested in helping our staff to grow in their of understanding Catholic education,” Dahlman said.

Melody Cylkowski, a longtime parishioner of St. Peter and a part-time receptionist, likes what she has seen so far. She thought the transition has seemed fluid and that the new priests were well-received at the receptions following the July 1-2 Masses when they were introduced to the parish.

“They seem to have a love for Christ that they want to share with us,” Cylkowski said. “I am looking forward to all that they can share with us.”

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