Figlie Maria SS. Corredentrice
Fr. Vittorio Dante Forno
Vittorio Dante Forno was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil on June 2, 1916 to Sicilian parents.
In 1924 he moved to Sicily with his mother, who sent him to the Salesian college in Pedara (Catania) to receive a proper and complete education. There he experienced the first signs of a religious vocation and for this reason went to San Gregorio (Catania), where his vocation matured and he was accepted into the novitiate and completed classical studies. His superiors sent him to Rome for theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he completed a licentiate in theology on July 11, 1941.
Fr. Forno was ordained a priest on June 9, 1940 and his first assignments were in teaching – first at San Gregorio and later at Pedara – but, above all, he was a great animator of oratories for the youth.
What above all marked his activity for the benefit of the youth was the organization of an association called ‘La SPIGA’ (‘SPIGA’ being an acronym for the Italian words for ‘Help for Abandoned Youth’), that sprang up immediately after the Second World War and in which he did everything in his power to protect a lot of boys from spiritual and material misery. In order to achieve this goal, he gave them shelter, food and clothing, trying to keep them away from the roads and the bad habits, from wandering and gangsterism. In Catania (Sicily) these “Sciuscià” (that means street urchins) were as many as 3000: a figure that makes us understand how much passionate was Fr. Forno’s love towards the poor.
Also in Palermo Fr. Forno did all he could for the benefit of the poor, and by order of Cardinal Ruffini he committed himself to the POA (Pontifical Organization for Assistance), showing in every activity all his strength, a lot of enthusiasm and a great moral uprightness.
From Palermo Fr. Forno moved to Messina, where first he was appointed as a lecturer at St. Thomas’s Theological College. Afterwards he asked to be assigned to pastoral work in the parish of St. Matthew, in an abandoned area on the outskirts of the city.
In the midst of all this activity he felt a growing need in his soul to give himself totally to the redemptive work of Christ – to Christ’s offering of himself on Calvary and its memorial in the Eucharist.
With this in mind, and with Mary Co-Redemptrix as a model, he invited other generous souls to follow her in her service of Christ the High Priest.
In the autumn of 1954 he was transferred to the community of St. Gregory and later to that of Riesi (CL), and in 1958 he asked the Salesian Congregation for permission to leave it in order to found the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Co-Redemptrix.
For this purpose he was welcomed to Reggio Calabria by its Archbishop, Mgr. Giovanni Ferro, who, on March 25, 1963, granted formal recognition to the young Institute.
In the Archdiocese of Reggio Calabria he took part in the work of various sectors of the apostolate: as Assistant to the Catholic Action Movement for Students; chaplain to children’s holiday camps; curate for railway workers in the Holy Saviour and Sacred Heart parishes; teacher for courses given to CIF (Centre for Italian Women) and to the Work for the Protection of Youth; diocesan director of the Legion of Mary and of the Pontifical Mission-Aid Societies; and teacher of religion in the State schools. Finally he was formally incardinated in the Archdiocese of Reggio Calabria.
But his daily attention and priestly zeal expressed themselves above all in the care he devoted to the work entrusted to him by God: the Daughters of Mary Co-Redemptrix, for whom he outlined an ideal for their lives in the footsteps of Mary Co-Redemptrix: a life of prayer, sacrifice, total donation of oneself to God and the Priesthood of Christ, for the Church and for the good of souls; and he pointed out the steps of the spiritual journey to be undertaken and the best means for remaining faithful to their specific vocation.
In the end his great physical strength was undermined by his manifold priestly activities and the suffering they entailed, and he began to be afflicted by the illness which, over a span of twenty years, was growing in him and which he accepted in a spirit of immolation to the will of God.
On December 15, 1975 he died in Reggio Calabria and went to his home in Heaven.
His last words were a sort of summary of his life:
“Yes, I am happy. Living an entire life is worthwhile in order to arrive at this moment that enlightens the meaning of one’s whole existence”.
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