Ruvo di Puglia (Bari). On 22 April 2023, in the Great Hall of the Episcopal Seminary in Molfetta, the final evening of the “Fr. Tonino Bello” Literary Prize was held with the announcement of the winners. The jury was composed of Vincenzo Corrado, Director of the National Office for Social Communications of the CEI; Piero Ricci, journalist of La Repubblica and President of the Order of Journalists of Puglia; and Maria Luisa Sgobba, journalist of Mediaset and national Vice President of the Union Italian Catholic Press.

The journalist Antonio Visicchio from Ruvo di Puglia, Bari, received the Award “Light and Life” in the journalism section, for the publication of the article Sister Maria Mazzone and the “City of Hope”. How proud Ruvo appeared on the Ruvesi website .it dated 31 December 2022.

In the article, Visicchio retraces the exciting, intense, and incessant missionary adventure in Zambia of his fellow citizen, Sr. Maria Mazzone, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, whom Pope Benedict XVI had already awarded in 2009, with the high pontifical honor of the cross “Pro Ecclesia et Pontefice” for having made solidarity the basis of her life and her work.

At the time of the announcement, the journalist expressed his gratitude as follows:

“I want to thank the organization, the Commission, and His Excellency the Bishop for granting me this award which I particularly care about, because it is dedicated to a great writer and a sublime poet such as our late Fr. Tonino. I also thank and the Director Paolo Pinto because the local newspapers are the true sounding board of neighborhood journalism. They tell stories, culture, and traditions that otherwise would be condemned to oblivion. The story narrated in the article is that of Sister Maria Mazzone, a missionary, a religious, but above all, a fellow citizen from Ruvese.”

Antonio Visicchio defines Sister Maria Mazzone as “an intrepid Salesian Sister, so fervent in faith and very eager to help others” and supports with his activity as a journalist the initiatives that she and her Sisters promote in favor of the people of Zambia, because they deserve to be known and supported by the generous solidarity that characterizes the people of Southern Italy.

Sister Maria created two structures that mainly welcome women who are victims of violence and offer, not a consoling welfare assistance, but real social integration. There is no shortage of adversity, but Sister Maria faces them with the courageous enthusiasm and overwhelming humanity that characterize her and, above all, trusting in the Lord’s help.  Visicchio says, “I think it is among the most beautiful and concrete examples of the Church with an apron so desired by Fr. Tonino that gives itself totally and dispassionately to others with only the certainty of faith in God.”

Sr. Maria Mazzone was born in Ruvo di Puglia (BA) in 1949 and lived the first 15 years after her religious profession in Italy as a nursery school educator and for 5 years as a community animator. In 1988, she fulfilled her missionary dream, which had long been cultivated in her heart. After a year of specific preparation in Rome and a period in England, she was assigned to Zambia, where she worked with apostolic zeal with girls at risk in the “City of Hope” in Lusaka, trying to make them grow up as good Christians and honest citizens. She is currently Animator of the Community of St. Mary D. Mazzarello of Lusaka Makeni, Province of Our Lady of Peace (AFM).


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