Termini Imerese Stories

Father Delisi's Chronicles of his trip to Termini Imerese, September 2002

Dear Laura and cousins,
For some time I have been trying to get through to you, but with little success. I hope this E-mail gets to you and the cousins I have four hand written pages and I will try to send them on to you. Remember that an Italian computer does not have and English spell-check.
Sept. 28, 2002.
My last visit to Termini was 20 years ago. The memory has a way of recalling things just as they were 20 years ago and now I am somewhat shocked at the similarities and the differences. The world just had to move on as it did here.
Perhaps the biggest change has been within myself. I find myself less enthusiastic about climbing up and down steep steps. The noise and rush of this city is the same as motorcycles and small cars go up and down the crowded narrow streets.
This trip has been accented with the presence of two new friends found on the Termini web site. Gloria nd Chuck Otto flew into Rome where we met and whenever I was free, I joined them in visiting the sites of the City. We also attended a public audience with the Pope and then went on to visit the Cistine Chapel and other sites.
We fllew out seperately on Friday and met in Palermo where my cousins led us along the express way to the city of our forefathers. For the first day we simply settled in and enjoyed the scenery and the food. I am staying with my first cousin while the Ottos are at the Grand Hotel with the grand prices. (Bottled water at $4.)
Yesterday Mario Galioto drove us to one of his plots of land with 75 olive trees filled with olives. These trees are hundreds of years old. The scenery is fantastic as one beholds the mountains on one side and the Mediteranian on the other. The age of plastic bottles has made its impart and even here the sides of the roads are cluttered with trash, a sign of our age.
Within the past 20 years there has been a revival of old sites. Churches that were closed twenty years ago are once again open as places of tourism rather than of worship. Seemingly the government has released funds for the restoration of old building. The Lions Club of Termini has taken this on as one of their projects.
Our first great adventure was to visit the Church of Saint Ursula (Orsola). Franscesco Amodeo, president of the Lions Club and also a reporter for the daily newspaer Giornale Di Sicilia was there to unlock the doors and give us the grand tour. We descended about 40 steps to a crypt or catacomb where there were dried up bodies in caskets and some hanging on hocks from the wall. There was a trap door in the floor and beneigth was a chamber filled with bones. To my surprise, the wall that was filled with caskets 20 years ago was now empty. I wonder what happened to those caskets and bones. This place was cleaned up to become a quasi place for tourism, but lost some of old austerity. We took lots of photos to show to you all. A lot of these places remain locked up, but if one know the right poeple with the right keys one is able to get in. These places that were once vibrant places of worship testifying to a faith that must have motivated these people to build such structures that are now simply objects of interest to a few of us visitors, while life continues for the average person. In almost every block there is a church pointing to something or someone beyond the beauty of the mountains, sea and sky. They say that there were at one time 63 churches in this city. At present 31 are still open. A pstor may have more than one church under his jurisdiction. There is only one evangelical church and one Jahovah witness church. (No Jewish temple or places of worship for Muslums.)
Yesterday afternoon we also walked to the Church of the Annunciation where again we found a hole in floor of the church that was also filled with dried up corpses.
On Friday afternoon we did get into the Cathedral to see some of the records. I have to wrote more at some other time.
Mario just walked in and want to take me somewhere so I will have to stop writing for the present. Be patient since I intend to write more.
PAX. Fr. Anthony Delisi

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