On the figure of Bishop Farina we publish a contribution from the Metropolitan Archbishop of Foggia.
The history of salvation is guided by the Lord, but it is also in the hands of men whom the Creator wanted free. It is always God who takes the initiative, who makes a precise proposal, but it is man who accepts or rejects it. If he accepts it, divine intervention can materialize; if he rejects her, Salvation History comes to a halt.
In times of trial, the Lord calls a man and sends him as his prophet to help humanity. It is the experience of that incarnate charity, testified by Mons. Fortunato Maria Farina, who taught to read the dramatic experiences of his time, inserting them in the horizon of an absolute and eternal Love.
The conversational and serene style with which Don Fortunato indicated the hidden good in every event, seeking and offering benevolence in the small daily realities and in the infinite forms of fragility and suffering, is moving. As God became important to him, the more he related to Him, the more profoundly he suggested paths of good to procure bread, culture and freedom, looking at the present with another hope.
For Archbishop Farina, wisdom is more than science; it is possible to access it through a personal investment, through behaviors capable of making the instances of the Kingdom transparent in human existence. Every concrete situation, every authentic earthly value, every glimmer of good faith became, for Ours, an invitation, an impulse, a positive help to set out towards the attainment of supernatural wealth and glory without shadows and without end.
The roots of Mons. Farina’s socio-political formation, inspired by Rerum novarum, the thought of Luigi Sturzo, Giuseppe Toniolo and card. Andrea Carlo Ferrari.
Suffice it to recall the effort and apostolic courage with which he committed himself in the aftermath of the air raids on Foggia in 1943. Among the various initiatives, we recall the “San Francesco Regis” Work for families and “San Michele Arcangelo” for young people in difficulty. Without stopping at theoretical discussions, he made contact with the wounds of the poor areas of the territory.
In fact, he supported the charitable works, which at the time were called “Conservatories”: the “Santa Teresa” Conservatory, as a shelter for abandoned orphans; the “Maddalena” Conservatory for repentant women; the “Good Council” Conservatory for fragile people; the “Santa Margherita di Cortona” Conservatory for girls released from trafficking; the “Addolorata” Conservatory for cholera orphans. These Conservatories were grouped and developed in favor of orphans and the poor and welcomed into the Conservatory of Our Lady of Sorrows, known by the people as “Conventino”.
Particular attention was also given to the “Scillitani” charity for the charitable action of the Sisters of Charity of Santa Giovanna Antida as well as to the “Marcelline” Institute for the educational mission of young people.
Archbishop Farina was an authoritative and loving guardian of the initiative of the “Maria Grazia Barone” Foundation and wanted the Pie Operaie di San Giuseppe in the city for the moral, psychological and spiritual assistance of women, victims of violence.
Furthermore, with a forward-looking eye, he brought the “Don Pasquale Uva” psychiatric hospital to Foggia, on the model of the Cottolengo in Turin.
He was also the executor of Signora Michelina Gravina, whose charitable work, in San Marco in Lamis, welcomed unfit for work and children for religious and civil training.
In all of this, Bishop Farina managed to harmonize the effort of thinking, of comparing, of deepening, with the strength of emotions, putting in the field energies and willingness to form an adequate idea of the complexity of the problems, so that the truths do not get confused with opinions. On the spiritual and cultural track, he strengthened pacts of esteem and solidarity, capable of overcoming fragmentation and opposition and rebuilding a fabric of supportive and secure relationships.
In this regard, the same relationship with Fascism, he always saw as a prudent man, especially with the local authorities. This attitude and his meekness made him an esteemed and appreciated interlocutor in the difficult politics of the time, with his interventions full of balance, evangelical hope and social peace.
In Capitanata, at least until the outbreak of World War II, it was thus possible to highlight a sort of “coexistence” between the local Church and Fascism: it was often Farina himself who revealed the adoption of certain precautions to avoid accidents.
Re-reading some of the interventions, the Bishop’s commitment to combine religious and civil sensitivity emerges in the awareness of a common responsibility in certain historical conditions. The result was a significant relationship between politics and spirituality. It indicated an empty space in which politics meets the inner dimension and is done not only “with”, but also “for” the next.
Don Fortunato needed the ability to govern, before others, themselves, their own weaknesses and hypocrisies, so as to acquire authority and obtain that Christian virtue which is consistency. He loved to repeat that if we want a more secure future, a future that encourages prosperity for all, it is necessary to keep the compass always pointed towards authentic values.
Welcoming the other as a gift builds human fraternity, starting from diversity. The choice we face is between trusting the other or suspicion, between giving ourselves up like Christ to humanity or arming ourselves to deny a place to the other. We all choose to be brothers: this is the sacred line that is in perfect harmony with the divine will.
Despite the years, the disillusionments, the heaviness, everyone must be able to repeat every day: “I’m starting over”, keeping the light of the eyes and the freshness of thanksgiving. Live each day as a beginning where nothing is decided yet, where every risk is still open, where every adventure is still undefined. Renewing is only difficult, not impossible: it is the testament of these pages lovingly written with the heart by Mons. Luigi Nardella, dear priest of the Church of Foggia-Bovino.