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Antonio and his wife, Adele, learned about the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor through his two daughters who participated in the Youth Group led by the Sisters of the Santa Chiara Community in Messina. Together with his wife, he became an Associate of our Congregation in 1996.

He was an affectionate and kind husband, father and grandfather -- somebody people could turn to for help. He was a worthy Station Master for the Italian rail service. He also was an expert traffic officer for the ferry service operating in the Straits of Messina, a demanding and important job that he performed with much grace and kindness. During his career, his colleagues greatly appreciated him for who he was, and they gave him a wonderful celebration when he retired.  

When he celebrated his first Associate Covenant, in his request he emphasized: "I found it natural to help Sr. Giuliana at Caritas when I could, and those were important times for me, I couldn't help but feel engaged and enriched in spirit. Meeting so many poor people in Italy showed me the charism of Mother Frances in flesh and blood, and I knew that Mother Frances helps Sisters and Associates as they fulfill her charism today."

Antonio was always ready and willing to help the Sisters in providing service to the Diocesan Caritas, driving people to wherever they were performing the ministries for the ill and for the needy. These activities reinforced his devotion to others. A few years later, when he renewed his Covenant, he wrote: "Being an Associate makes me live differently. Being part of such a large family has opened my heart to other Associates and at the same time, my relationship with my family and with others has totally changed."

He felt a special kind of love for his family. For as long as his health permitted, he looked after his two grandchildren patiently and affectionately. He loved them immensely. He had kind eyes, and the people who met Antonio always noticed immediately how his eyes shone with a new light that reflected his depth and goodness of heart. In God he found inspiration. In fact, when he requested to celebrate his Permanent Covenants in 2007, he said: "The experience of being an Associate has taught me many things which I could put into practice, and reading the Gospel taught me that prayer is the best way to win admiration in the heart of God."

Antonio shared his willingness to give service in many ways: providing tangible help in the ministries, helping the mission in Senegal through the ‘distance adoption project,’ and participating at Associate Committee meetings in the Area. He was on the Committee from 2005 to 2009, acting as the representative of Associates in Messina.

When he could still travel, he loved taking part in Meetings, and the company of others brought him joy. In the later years of his life, he was afflicted by a form of Alzheimer's which, over time, meant that he increasingly needed help and assistance. In this stage of his life, his family as well as other SFP Associates showed how much they cared for him by spending time with him, and even holding formation meeting at his house. Despite his illness, and with Adele’s help he was able to keep up with his daily prayers even when he did not recognize the people around him. He could not remember events, but he never forgot to pray every day for the Sisters and Associates and for the poor. His most beautiful character trait was simplicity, like a child trusting in the arms of the Father.

Sisters and Associates together  want to thank God for Antonio's life, for his inspiring example, and for the entire path he walked with us as an SFP Associate.

By Calogero La Zara and the Santa Chiara Community of Messina        

Associate Gigi Sapone and Sr. Maria Atorino remember Associate Antonio Fulco with much affection:

I thought Antonio Fulco was the model Associate. He was always ready to help the SFP community in Messina through all its adventures and challenges. He loved the Congregation with all his heart, and embodied its spirit. He did all he could to help until his family and then his health problems overwhelmed him. We didn't talk much in the past 17 years -- and we saw each other even less -- but I know for certain that he always thought of me and prayed for me and for every member of the Congregation. He was one of the few who contacted me on a regular basis when I decided to move to Bergamo.

A prayer and a spiritual hug to him and to his family.

Gigi Sapone

Heartfelt thanks To Antonio for his generous attentiveness in going with me often to Camp Italia, a facility for people who are HIV positive... Sr

Maria Atorino

 Published: November 9, 2016