The beginning of the Pastoral Ministry of Mgr. Leonardo D’Ascenzo, Archbishop of Trani-Barletta-Bisceglie

Archbishop Mgr. Leonardo D’Ascenzo
“I stand at the door and knock ” (Rev. 3:20)

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On Saturday January 27, the Archdiocese of Trani-Barletta-Bisceglie joyfully welcomed its new Archbishop Mgr. Leonardo D’Ascenzo, after having lived the important day of his Episcopal Ordination, held on Sunday January 14 in the “Bandinelli” Palasport, in Velletri .

After being received in the early afternoon by the mayor of Trani and the diocesan Administrator Mgr.  Giuseppe Pavone, Archbishop D’Ascenzo went first to the Caritas dormitory named after his predecessor, Mgr.Giovan Battista Pichierri, where he met a group of immigrant women.This is a sign of attention towards the last, already manifest at the dawn of his episcopal ministry and that it is also possible to see in his greeting to the civil and military authorities that was held immediately afterwards. In fact, addressing himself to them, he affirmed: “… I thought that if the Lord had not called me to the priesthood, I would have had no difficulty in devoting myself to political life, seen as a service to the ‘polis’, to the human community, because I see a common fundamental element between political commitment and priestly ministry, that is, as service to the  people and to the person. This makes our lives precious and noble: the service to the common good and to the good of the individual, especially of the little ones, that is, the poor, the elderly, the sick, those who have erred, the weakest… ” And, then, citing the example of Giorgio La Pira, the holy mayor of Florence who looked to a world without barriers, to the expectations of the poor, he emphasized that “we are all Samaritans, everyone … Every day we have to go down from Jerusalem to Jericho …. The parable of the Good Samaritan is an invitation to come down, to go towards the last who are in need and ask for our help “. Hence his exhortation “Let us never forget to attend the school of service and respect for the person, as such, without distinction or discrimination of any kind … This is particularly true today ‘day of remembrance’ in which we commemorate all the victims of the holocaust;let’s pray for them, because this horror never happens again. “

Accompanied by the faithful who enthusiastically greeted him along the way, Archbishop D’Ascenzo afterwards proceeded to the Church of San Giovanni to meet the clergy, the religious and consecrated people, the deacons and seminarians of the diocese. The impression about him is that of a man belonging to the people: he stopped, he embraced, he greeted people familiarly and blessed all those who approached him.

Then, he arrived at the Church and after kneeling for a few minutes before the Crucifix and having listened to the greeting of Mgr. Pavone on behalf of the whole diocesan Church of Trani, Barletta, Bisceglie, in his speech he highlighted that all the clergy is invited to live a real communion and a profound and true friendship, because it is only this that allows us to give an authentic testimony to Christ. And recalling the words taken from a text very familiar and dear to him”NEW VOCATIONS FOR A NEW EUROPE” – Final Document of the Congress on Vocations to the Priesthood and to Consecrated Life in Europe (1997) he said that “the first testimony we are called to give is the gift of our life “.

“Life – he quoted-is a good received which, by its nature, tends to become a good given. It is the truth of life, its logic: good received, good given! “And echoing Pope Francis, he continued clarifying that ‘though it is true that this mission demands great generosity on our part, it would be wrong to see it as a heroic individual undertaking… the primacy always belongs to God, who has called us to cooperate with him and who leads us on by the power of his Spirit “(EG12).

Then, starting from the Church of San Giovanni, there was the procession with which His Exc. Mgr. Leonardo D’Ascenzo entered the Cathedral for the solemn Celebration of the Eucharist. Among those present, in addition to the numerous bishops and civil authorities, also the Archbishop’s family, the new dean of the Pontifical Leoniano Collegio in Anagni, a large delegation of the Diocese of Velletri – Segni, some representatives of other religious faiths, as well as some members of Mgr. Pichierri’s family who wanted to take part in the solemn liturgy.

Mgr. D’Ascenzo greeted the many faithful who were in the cathedral recalling a passage from the Book of Revelation, the letter to the Church of Laodicea: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”(Rev 3: 20)”The door mentioned today by Jesus is the door of the heart of this Church of Trani-Barletta-Bisceglie, it is the door of each of you, in front of which I want to stand discreetly, knock gently to enter and eat, that is, to share the Bread, the Bread of life which is Jesus“.

«And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God».With these words of St. Paul to the Corinthians, during his first homily, the Archbishop referred to his mandate: “I am aware of my limitations and weaknesses and therefore I ask the Lord that He uses me so that I can spread His Word “.

He also explained the meaning of the motto he chose “Messis quidem multa”: the harvest is plentiful. “Those words invite us to look at a reality that is able to recognize beauty, the positive things that precede us and accompany us …Those words – he continued – surprise us, because we all know that we must first plow, sow and cultivate in order to harvest abundantly at the right time..Jesus says instead that ‘the harvest is plentiful’. But who worked for the result to be such? The answer is only one: God. We often look at reality with depression and negativity: we should instead direct our gaze on the abundance of the harvest”.

The appointment of Archbishop D’Ascenzo surprised everyone. The Archdiocese of Trani – Barletta Bisceglie is “a Church with long tradition, it is lively, numerically large“, therefore, “it is customary to appoint in it a Bishop who has experience, not newly appointed… I carry with me no experience in this regard. It is this Church, it is youwho will help me to learn the service that lies ahead. For my part, as it is said, I must study “.

We, the Little Children of the Divine Will, would like to express our good wishes to His Excellency so that “this new adventure” as he himself called it, may be enlightened by the Light of the Divine Will; we assure him our prayers for a fruitful episcopal ministry and for all the effort that he will also be called to give to further the process of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta, so that the Kingdom of God can be fulfilled “on earth as it is in Heaven “.