In 1948, Italian priest Zeno Saltini founded the city of 'Nomadelfia.' But it's definitely not your typical city. It's made up of families that take in abandoned children.
Their charism is very particular. They live the way the first Christian communities in Jerusalem lived. There is no private property, and all good are shared.
Fr. Ferdinando is Zeno Salitini's successor as the priest that assists this community.
"Nomadelfia means: 'Where fraternity is the law.' In other words, to live fraternally is not simply romanticism. It means being side by side, respecting each other, sharing all that you have, and to put all personal skills and traits to the service of others.”
Nomadelfians set up their community near the city of Grosseto, in central Italy. Within Rome, there's an small one dedicated to taking in pilgrims. In all, both communities combined include 50 families, or about 300 people.
Donatella is one of the residents. Her grandparents were among the first couples to move in. She was born in Nomadelfia, and even established her family there. Donatella is a mother to 12 children, several of them adopted. She lives with three other families. Among themselves, they educate the youngest family members, and delegate chores.
"In Nomadelfia, the children are not obligated to stay with their family, and live that way for their whole lives. It's a lifestyle choice. They have to feel a calling, a vocation.”
"We learn that, in order to truly be ourselves, we need to be surrounded by others, because people know who they are and their worth, if they're surrounded by others.”
"In the morning, the elders get up first, and then children. We also eat breakfast this way... quickly and then the children go off to school. We distribute the courses among ourselves and we take turns. Those who are not teaching, work in the kitchen or the laundry room. We clean everything together, and we also eat together.”
Recently, Fr. Ferdinando and one of the first women to join Father Saltini in the project met with Pope Francis. They explained their mission, and received his blessing.
John Paul II visited Nomadelfia in May 1989. He baptized a child, and praised the group's sense of fraternity. He said the community's environment reminded him of the description from the Acts of the Apostles. He also referred to them as an example to a world that is "sometimes hostile and distanced from faith.”
AA / Nomadelfia