The “Il Senso del Pane” (The Meaning of Bread) Project
"Il senso del Pane" (The meaning of Bread):
host production workshops in the world
The first spiritual and host production laboratory was born in Opera's prison, just outside Milan.
By praying and asking Jesus how to communicate His real Presence in the Eucharist to many people, the intuition to have the hosts produced by the hands of people who in their past had committed crimes and repented, with the intention of donate the hosts they produce to priests to consecrate them, was born.
A paradox, a way to communicate the infinite mercy of divine love to believers and non-believers.
This first workshop was born in the Opera prison (Milan) where three people detained have been producing artisan hosts since 2015. Hosts that are donated every week to dozens of churches throughout Italy and abroad.
The Holy Father blessed the project and consecrated the hosts of the small laboratory on the occasion of the Jubilee of prisoners, at the Holy Mass in San Pietro.
Even dignity has entered prison. The detainees have learned a real trade and have a job that even gives them a small salary.
In a second time the "Il Senso del Pane" project has grown: the new idea was that from the first one new "Eucharistic workshops" could be born, could "blossom" also abroad.
And so the prisoners became " distance trainers " and thanks to their video lessons, it was possible to start other workshops in other countries.
"Il senso del Pane" project in Sri Lanka
The project "il senso del Pane" ("The meaning of Bread") is also born in Sri Lanka - thanks to the video lessons made by the prisoners who work in the host production workshop of the Opera prison - within the more School for Life project, promoted by the Diocese of Galle with the support of the Francesco Realmonte Onlus Association.
Created by the episcopal vicar Mons. Charles Hewawasam, it is aimed at promoting resilience in abandoned girls and young widows who can learn a trade in a welcoming, educational and safe place. For them, the alternative would be the road. To counter the many vulnerabilities, dictated above all by poverty and ignorance, workshops have been created for the production of candles, tablecloths which from July 2019 will be joined by the new host production laboratory dedicated to Professor Agostino Fusconi.
This will allow a small economic income and above all the construction of professionalism and the conquest of social dignity. On April 21, 2019, Sri Lanka was shaken by a series of terrorist attacks that hit three churches on Easter Sunday during the liturgy, resulting in the death of 359 people. The host production project is also a bold sign of testimony.
Below, two images depicting the distribution of hosts to the parish priests on the occasion of the feast of Our Lady of Matara, in the presence of the bishop of Wales.
The "Il senso del Pane" project in Mozambique
The Casa da Misericordia is a structure of the Archdiocese of Maputo (Mozambique) whose mission is the reception, accompaniment and help in the socio-family reintegration of ex-prisoners and prisoners with alternative punishment to prison. From January 2019 in the Casa da Misericordia is the project of the production of the hosts, which flourished as a gemmation of the "il senso del Pane" project thanks to the video lessons made by the prisoners who work in the production laboratory of hosts of the Opera prison.
Five young men of the House of Mercy, detainees and ex-convicts, are giving their strength, their ability and their work, for about 8 hours a day, to prepare bread for the Eucharistic celebration. The hosts are produced because they are sorted, with the help of the Archdiocese of Maputo, to reach the local churches where they gather weekly in thousands of rural and urban communities. The province of Maputo has almost 3 million inhabitants, many of whom are Catholics and before the birth of the laboratory there were great difficulties in satisfying the need for hosts.
"Crumbs of Life"
Eucharistic bread prolongs its beneficial effects with the "crumbs of life" program
Just behind the room where the hosts are prepared, a wood-burning kitchen has risen. In this kitchen meals are prepared for the members of the Casa da Misericordia and where the "Crumbs of life" project was born two years ago, which is a process of food aid for 70 families who come every Wednesday to collect a hot meal packed by a group of mothers helped by the young people of the Casa da Misericordia.
Every week, seventy needy families, mainly the elderly and children, gather in the Casa da Misericordia to receive a full meal, carefully prepared by groups of three ladies of the Legion of Mary who alternate weekly. The number of needy grows and requests for help increase, in a Mozambique that is experiencing yet another post-electoral crisis and the growth of generalized poverty despite the increase in GDP, to the benefit of a handful of rich people and to the detriment of a multitude of "Lazarus" who live off the crumbs of life on the edge of the globalization of indifference. Thanks to the "Crumbs of Life" project, in addition to the weekly meal in which the community gathers together, each family is provided with the food that allows them to eat throughout the month.
The "Il senso del Pane" project in Ethiopia
They call them "strays". According to estimates, 100,000 children live on the street in Addis Ababa alone. They almost always come from the countryside surrounding the Ethiopian capital; hungry, before food, love and hope. Often, families are disintegrated, the father is absent, the mother is unable to feed all the children. And they, the street children, arrive in the city, dreaming of a human and social redemption, in order to perhaps contribute to financially helping the family. Instead, they end up on the street. If that's okay, they ask for alms. If it goes wrong, they become little thugs, at risk of being caught by the local police: for the theft of a mirror, you can also have 5 years in prison, crammed with 50 other children in suffocating sheet metal sheds, without windows, without almost toilets .
Don Angelo Regazzo, or Abba Melaku, as they call him in Ethiopia, wakes up every morning at 4. He takes the bus and goes around the outskirts of the city, meeting these boys. He loads them on board and takes them to Bosco Children, the mission that the Salesians founded in 2008 to give children a chance. Here, they have the opportunity to wash, eat and change their lives, if they want. «The choice is personal», explains Don Angelo, «and very demanding. Children, who are used to sniffing glue and carrying out small thefts to endure the hunger and the cold of the night, must detoxify and "go straight". Only then can they become part of our community and change from "stray" to "good brats" ». A hundred children live at Bosco Children: they have the opportunity not only to eat and wash themselves, but also to study and, in the educational spirit of the Salesians of Don Bosco, to learn a trade: leather working, tailoring, cooking ...
"Three years go by," adds Fr Angelo who, together with Abba Johannes, an Ethiopian Salesian, manages the community for volunteers, educators and formators. "Among the most important moments, there is the meeting with the parents. During this period, they learn a job that will allow them, once they leave Bosco Children, to find employment. In the meantime, during their stay, on holidays they have the opportunity to go out, to confront the world from which we have subtracted them. For them it is a real "test", but it is also the opportunity to put the professionalism learned to good use. What they earn can be deposited into an account in their name and we Salesians are committed to doubling the amount ".
At Bosco Children was born a laboratory for the production of hosts, made by street children and those entrusted by the juvenile prison. Don Angelo comments: «This is a wonderful initiative, because children can experience mercy in this way and can learn a trade that saves them from the street. Our desire is to give the hosts: just as we have freely received from the Foundation of the House of the Spirit and the Arts, so too we donate to the other parishes for free, to multiply the good and solidarity ».
The "Il senso del Pane" project in Pompeii
The production of hosts in Pompeii is hosted in the "Maria Madre di Misericordia Family Home", built within the "Center for the child and the family", commissioned by John Paul II and directed by Raffaela and Salvatore Buonocore, of the Community Pope John XXIII, founded by Don Oreste Benzi.
Hosts are produced by people with physical and mental disabilities who live in the family home. The Archbishop of Pompeii Tommaso Caputo, blessing the premises and the people who will work there, highlighted "the strong bond that this initiative establishes between the Eucharist and Charity. Here, where suffering Christ is welcomed every day in the brothers and sisters in difficulties, they themselves will prepare the hosts who will become the Body of Christ ".
The hosts produced will be donated to the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Rosario in Pompeii - founded at the end of the nineteenth century by Blessed Bartolo Longo - and to all the parishes that request it.
Loreta Somma, press officer of the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Rosario, told about the project in an article written for Avvenire . You can read it here.
An article published by Sempre magazine tells about the "il senso del Pane" project in the Maria Madre Family House of Pompeei: you can read it here.
Buenos Aires - Father Adrian Bennardis
In the suburbs of Buenos Aires 13.8% of minors go to bed without dinner. One in ten lives in poverty.
Father Adrián Bennardis, responsible for the childhood and adolescence at risk of the archdiocese of Buenos Aires, cares villero, that is, priest in pastoral service in the villas, the poor peripheral neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.
He established the Centros barriales Hogar de Cristo, where he hosts children who have addiction problems. They will be the ones to produce the hosts.
The Eucharistic workshop was started by involving three young people who came out of the drug world, who are accompanied by the team of Father Adrian Bennardis towards a future of autonomy and dignity. The hosts produced by the three young men are being donated to the churches of the city of Buenos Aires.
In May 2021, the Argentine President Alberto Fernàndez was received in audience by Pope Francis. Among the gifts they exchanged, the Argentine president donated the hosts produced in the Buenos Aires workshop to the Pope (Link).
The “Il Senso del pane” project in Alcoy – Spain
The "San Juan de Ribera" community of contemplativa life in Alcoy (Spain)
A unique spiritual place where the hosts being produced will be donated to witness the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist.
The nuns themselves will produce the hosts to be donated to all the churches that request them, in order to witness the charisma of their monastery, i.e. adore and recognize that in the Blessed Sacrament there is the real Presence of Christ and pray to remedy the offenses committed against the Most Holy Eucharist.
The hosts gifted to priests have great significance since they will be required to witness and communicate to believers their love for the Eucharist.
The community belongs to the "Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara" Institute, belonging to the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word. Its specific purpose is the evangelization of culture, so that the Gospel has its roots in the life and culture of each nation.
Since 2017 the Community has resided in the historic Monastery of the Holy Sepulcher, where in 1597 the Archbishop of Valencia, San Giovanni de Ribera (1533-1611), founded the Order of Discalced Augustinians, in order to repair the sacrilegious robbery of consecrated hosts perpetrated in the parish of Santa María in the city of Alcoy in the year 1568.
For this fact, the inhabitants of the city of Alcoy have promised to erect a temple to commemorate "the theft and the discovery of sacred forms".
This temple preserves the miraculous image of the Child Jesus, who changed his original posture to indicate the place where the thief had hidden the ciborium that contained the Blessed Sacrament. Similarly, the place where it was found is marked by an image of the lying Jesus Christ from which the church and monastery take the name of "Holy Sepulcher".
Following the miracle and to promote Eucharistic devotion, the privilege of being able to celebrate Corpus Domini twice a year was granted.
The community prays for Catholic education at all levels.
For two years the community has had the immense joy of obtaining that the chapel of perpetual adoration of the city of Alcoy operates in the church of its monastery, thus perpetuating the homage of reparative love in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
For this reason the community is deeply grateful to be able to participate in the important task of making hosts for the Eucharistic worship.
"We are committed to praying for all the members of the "Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti" Foundation and for the success of the "Il Senso del Pane" project worldwide, and for all the benefactors who have made possible this wonderful miracle of having, in our monastery, a laboratory of hosts".
«The House of Bread»
Where Jesus is born, Bread is born
A new host production laboratory will be set up in the coming months in Bethlehem (Palestine), in collaboration with the Hogar Niño Dios, a shelter for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities, abandoned and in serious need.
The “Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara” nuns, belonging to the "Religious Family of the Incarnate Word", will work in the host production workshop, together with the boys and girls with disabilities of the Hogar Niño Dios. The hosts produced will be donated to some Churches of the Holy Land and Jordan.
HOGAR NIÑO DIOS is a charity work born 15 years ago that belongs to the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word, where nuns and priests work tirelessly to offer to the most needy children a family, affection and assistance. Today this house welcomes 36 children and young people with physical and mental disabilities, who would have no other places to go; while they follow children with disabilities through afternoon activities.
All’interno dell’Hogar i bambini trovano cuori pronti ad accoglierli e ad amarli.
In an already poor context characterized by an endemic situation of tension, children with disabilities and affected by malformations are sometimes abandoned by their families.
Many times, parents do not know how to cope with their children's disabilities due to the lack of a culture of assistance to the weakest and most disadvantaged. In any case, there are many families who do not know how to treat the disabled family member or who, in any case, do not believe that something can be done to improve their condition (specific schools, targeted therapies) and therefore they just feed the family member with disabilities keeping him or her alive.
In the Hogar Niño Dios, priests and religious commit themselves to offer these disabled children and adults a complete care that includes not only health but also a special school and various activities that have as their objective the development of the person, from the smallest to the most great, in their different abilities.
But all this would not be possible without prayer. For this reason, priests celebrate Holy Mass where the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus is renewed and where that Bread of Angels is given as a "gift" and "food", and where the members of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word take the strength to cure Jesus in the most needy, to be an instrument of Divine mercy, to love the same Lord present in those who are his image of suffering in the world "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me ”(Matthew 25: 35-36).
During the time of the pandemic, without neglecting the assistance of children, men and women religious, volunteers and employees carried out Eucharistic adoration alternately, 6 hours a day, concluding with the Eucharistic blessing.
The Holy Mass together with Eucharistic adoration are the center of the day and the Source of all the blessings that this work of Charity receives, in order to be a light in the Land that Jesus chose to be born.
The «Il Senso del Pane» project in Barcelona
From January 1st, at the Obra Mercedaria Foundation, a new workshop supported by the Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti Foundation will be born. In this place former prisoners will participate in the production of hosts and at the same time they will be able to think about a project of life and dignity for their own social reintegration.
The «Il Senso del Pane» project in collaboration with the Casa Arché Foundation
Arché Foundation and Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti Foundation dedicate to the journalist Walter Tobagi the host production workshop which, on Friday 30 October, was inaugurated in Milan in a property confiscated from the mafia.
A double opportunity for reintegration that regenerates and gives new life to a property confiscated from the mafia. This opportunity is offered by the host production course which, starting from October 30, in the former night club in via Jean Jaures in Milan, will see a prisoner, detained in the Opera Prison of Milan, teaching the technique to some women, welcomed at the mother-child communities of the Arché Foundation.
It is promoted by the Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti Foundation and the Arché Foundation who have decided to join forces in this double rehabilitation and reintegration project.
The hosts workshop has been inaugurated on October 30th. At the end, the participants will have learned the techniques for the production of the hosts that will be donated to all the churches that request them, for the liturgical celebrations in Milan and beyond.
The workshop is dedicated to Walter Tobagi, the Corriere della Sera journalist who was killed on May 28 1980 outside his home by members of a semi-unknown terrorist group. «We believe it is important to tell, in a very different Milan from that of the Years of Lead, the possibility of transforming and changing the events of life that seem to condemn people to an already marked destiny", explains Father Giuseppe Bettoni, president of the Arché Foundation, convinced that "Walter Tobagi continues his living testimony in this place where shared bread is produced for the celebration of the Eucharist. Is it not for justice that we are hungry? Isn't it true that we want to feed ourselves and we want to feed our humanity?»
«Il Senso del Pane» project in Zambia
In the first months of 2021, the production of hosts activity will be launched in collaboration with the Pope John XXIII Community. The project will involve former street children. Information on this new initiative will soon be provided.
«Il Senso del Pane» in Netherlands
Pierpaolo and Andrea Flesia have been living in Netherlands since 2008.
They and their daughters are missionaries of the Pope John XXIII Community Association founded by Don Oreste Benzi. They live in a farm in Liempde (Noord Brabant) and have opened their homes and hearts to the many people who knock on their door.
“For Christ, with Christ, in Christ”. How wonderful!
My legs tremble every time I participate in this gift as a deacon.
Everytime I raise the chalice and the host I bring the people I love, my family, the sick, the parish.
Even the people who live with us.
I see their faces, their gaze hungry for the Bread of Life.
Many of them open themselves to the Mystery, they learn to let themselves be loved by the Lord and by the new, large family that welcomed them.
In a Nordic order they line up, hands careless, fingers yellowed by too many cigarettes rolled in the cold. Hands that in the past have fought, stolen, begged for alms. But the Lord saw good in them, He who had thought about them and loved them before they noticed.
A love they are (re) discovering.
Men and women that nobody wants. Poverty also hidden in the Netherlands.
The downside of Dutch economic wealth is the great relational poverty. More and more people live in isolation, without family or friendship networks.
Then everything becomes complicated: "A." has left the prison but there is no one waiting for him, "M." lives in the car because he does not have the documents in order and cannot access the dormitory, "F." with his 2 girls cannot find a home and the services would like to take away her daughters... Just a few examples of people who have bonded with us.
We live with 10-15 people depending on the period and the requests. In recent years, at least a hundred people in difficulty have referred to our home. Not just a house, a roof and some food, but a real family.
These people are often seen as a burden by society because they are considered not very productive.
It is true, the sufferings they bring with them are great. Wounds take time to heal. There are no longer the nails that kept them nailed to the cross, but the holes have remained. Respect the timetable, keep tidy, eat healthy. Normal things but not for everyone.
One day, at Mass, while I was placing the body of Christ on one of those hands, an idea came to me. Why not give a new meaning to the days of our big family? Why not use those hands to make the hosts?
From the hands of the least the Bread of Life.
It was enough to share the idea with Arnoldo that we immediately found ourselves immersed in this beautiful project.
Significant fact: absurdly, the local Church and the parishes live in poverty too because they do not receive contributions from the state and have to survive with donations.
Giving hosts to churches and monasteries is thus a beautiful help as well as a gesture of fraternal communion and restitution of the great good we receive. “Blessed are those invited to the Lord's table, take and eat, all of you”, Jesus tells us at every Eucharistic celebration. “Lord, always give us this bread”.
«Il Senso del Pane» project in the Gaza Strip
In the parish of the Holy Family of Gaza, in collaboration with Father Gabriel Romanelli and his community, in one of the poorest and most tortured lands in the Middle East, a host production workshop will come into being in 2021.
Here you can read the interview with Father Gabriel Romanelli, parish priest of Gaza.
«Il senso del Pane» project in Turkey
In Trabzon (Turkey), on the shores of the Black Sea, stands the church of Holy Mary, the only church in the whole vast region of north-eastern Turkey. In this almost totally Islamic context, in recent times, hostile forces have tried to undermine this presence, first with the assassination of the priest Fidei donum d. Andrea Santoro, martyred exactly in this church, and then with frequent gestures of intimidation (fire bombs, gun shots, stone-throwing,…).
The possibility of rebirth for every human being starts from everyone's spiritual dimension and dignity.
In the Jubilee Year 2016, with the collaboration of the Cariplo Foundation, a workshop for the production of hosts, which involved some prisoners convicted of serious crimes, was launched inside the Opera Prison. Il senso del Pane ("the meaning of bread") project was definitely consecrated in January 2016 when Pope Francis blessed the hosts prepared at Opera on the occasion of the Jubilee of Migrants. The strength and immediacy of the project - in which the bread for the Eucharistic celebration is produced by those who killed in the past but then followed an authentic path of interior conversion and repentance - have encouraged the membership of over 500 Italian and foreign dioceses, religious congregations, parishes, monasteries, Christian and Catholic realities - which have received and keep receiving, completely free of charge, the hosts produced. Today the artisanal production has exceeded 4 million hosts.
To request the hosts produced in prison as a gift, just write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The "Il senso del Pane" project, through the support of the Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti Foundation, has blossomed in Italy and abroad, in collaboration with associations and organizations that focus on the dignity of the human being and the union inseparable between Christ and the poor.
New “Eucharistic workshops” have been born in Italy and in the world, where it is always the “last”, the poor people, who produce what will become the Body of Christ. In Buenos Aires there are young people who come from a past of addictions, in Pompeii and Bethlehem people with physical and mental disabilities, in Ethiopia former street boys, in Milan single mothers who have a history of great suffering behind them, in Barcelona people who have served their sentence and are being helped in their process of social reintegration, in Maputo inmates and former prisoners, in Sri Lanka young widows and girls in a state of great poverty.
The Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti Foundation is committed to building together with every person who works in the Eucharistic workshops a project of life and dignity for their future.
Articles about the "Il senso del Pane" project:
➡ "Le ostie che nascono dalle mani insanguinate dei detenuti" (Aleteia.org)
➡ "La rinascita è per tutti" (International Family News)
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