MIGRATING South Sudanese and Italian families share more than the hope found in settling in Brisbane.
For 21 years, the local Italian Catholic Federation of Aspley-Geebung (FCI) and North Brisbane FCI have nurtured mutual support, cultural expression and faith sharing among their communities.
This connection was celebrated when families and individuals gathered in St Gerard Majella parish on October 7.
Scalabrinian Missionary Italian Chaplain Fr Angelo Cagna celebrated a Mass marking the 20-year anniversary of the arrival of the first Sudanese family to be supported by the FCI Refugee Support Group.
“After months of training and preparation, we were advised of our first family of seven from Sudan,” FCI treasurer Camillo Impellizzeri said of the 1999 arrival.
“From our very first encounter, we have had the privilege to not only be a support group for the family but to be involved with the South Sudanese community as it has grown and flourished.”
Mr Impellizzeri said this month’s celebration “was filled with joy, prayer and singing which left a peace and serenity”.
FCI president Bianca Frangiosa said the “understanding, respect, friendship and support” between the communities is what makes their connection long lasting, “enriching” each other.
“As a Italian community we have all been enriched because of our differences, our cultures and seeing each other as one,” Mrs Frangiosa said.
She sees “the seed planted 21 years ago” by Fr Cagna as having yielded much fruit and “is still being cultivated today”.
The friends in faith testify to the intercession of patron of the Scalabrinian order Blessed John Scalabrini and of patron saint of Sudan St Josephine Bakhita.
“Blessed Giovanni Batista Scalabrini is always present in our mission, work and our hearts,” Mrs Frangiosa said.
“We have many different cultures and traditions, and we can learn so much from each other, calling each other friends.
“Behind every face is a history.”
Also present was youth advocate Elijah Buol, president of the AWIEL community of Queensland Gabriel Pioth and Centre for Multicultural Pastoral Care representative Percy Lawrence.