Father Luigi Orazio Ferlauto
The priest Luigi Orazio Ferlauto, born in Troina on July 2nd 1922 was the Founder and President of the “Associazione Oasi Maria Santissima – ONLUS” until his death on September 12th 2017. On July 1st 1945 he became a priest and was appointed as priest-assistant in the San Sebastian Church in Troina. In March 1949, during the catholic procession named “Peregrinatio Mariae”, he was impressed by the high number of persons who had been isolated by the community because of their poverty or their disability. His attention was drawn by these latter, since they were confined behind their houses’ walls or abandoned because of their parents being ashamed of them. That was when this young priest started thinking how he could help disabled individuals and persons in need. In July 1951, his original dream begin to come true: he rented the first house to welcome children with intellectual disabilities. On February 2nd 1952, he met Pope Pius XII, who granted him a sum of 500,000.00 liras, subsequently used to purchase the first building of the Institute. Finally, on January 16th 1953, the first Ltd. company named “Oasi Maria SS.” was formally established, with the aim of “assisting poor disabled persons (persons with epilepsy, encephalitis, crippled), especially those who are abandoned, alone, isolated, orphan and nobody’s children” (Art. 4 of the by-laws).
Members of the newly-established company Oasi Maria SS. were Father Ferlauto (as he is commonly referred to) and a group of volunteers who subsequently consecrated as catholic sisters. Since then, Father Ferlauto has dedicated his entire life and his professional and humane efforts to the development of “Oasi Project”. At the very beginning, it was just a small house for a few patients; today it has become an excellence centre, known around the world and highly specialized in diagnostic, therapeutic, rehabilitation and research protocols in the field of intellectual disabilities and brain aging.
Oasi Institute now represents the most important economic reality in the province of Enna and the most advanced centre for individuals with disabilities in Southern Italy. This is an extraordinary example of how “non-profit”, person-oriented activities might become a powerful multiplier of synergies and inner resources in view of a local sustainable development in the economic, social and environmental fields.
Based on the successful outcome of decades of work in the field of solidarity, Father Ferlauto focused his attention on a unique project named “Oasi Open City”, a sort of “experimental laboratory” where innovative principles of inclusion and common living for “the weak” and “the strong” could be experienced. The Open City promotes a person-oriented lifestyle, human fulfilment and the removal of any physical, psychological and social barriers. The institutional body that deals with human promotion is the Foundation “Oasi Città Aperta” (Oasi Open City), established as a Legal Entity on September 22nd 1999 by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The “philosophy” of the “Open City” permeates the overall activities of Oasi Institute, because it encourages a new way of working, treating, living together, consuming, investing, and socially acting; it’s a new way of seeing economy, which turns to be the proper way to promote the fulfilment of the human beings and welcome those who are victims of exclusionary forms of discrimination.
- March 27th 1988: “The Artisan of Peace” prize, also awarded to Mother Theresa from Calcutta, Jean Vanier and the Coordinator of Cottolengo, the SER.MI.G-Turin.
- June 2nd 1989: “ARA PACIS” Award, by Rotary Club Roma Sud.
- 1990: International Award of “Sicilianship” – XXVI Edition, Zafferana Etnea (CT).
- August 4th 1991: Plaque of the year 1991 “Ernesto Saggio”, by the socio-cultural association “Kéramos ’88”, Cerami (EN).
- August 1991: “King Baudouin International Development Prize”, Brussels.
- April 9th 1992: “Euno Award 1992”, by Kiwanis International Europe – Italy District – Enna Club.
- December 1992: Appointed as “Knight Grand Cross”, by the President of Italy, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.
- December 25th 1993: International Prize “People from the Circus of Solidarity”, by A.N.C.I.S. Palermo, in collaboration with the Municipality of Rome.
- October 28 1995: Tissa Prize 1995, by TeleVideo Randazzo.
- July 24 1997: “We Serve” Award, by Lions Club Leonforte (EN)
- November 22nd 1998: “32nd Oscar of the Year”, by the Sport Allianz Collesano (PA).
- April 12th 1999: Decoration of “Grand Cross of Justice”, by the Military Hospitalier Order of Saint Mary of Betlemme, conferred by the Prince Angelo Maria Amoroso of Aragon, the Sovereign Grand Master.
- June 16th 2001: Solemn commendation to Father Luigi Ferlauto by the Municipality of Cesarò (ME).
- July 6th 2001: appointed as a member of the “International Honour Committee 2001” by the Cultural Association “Saint Orontius’ Horse Ride”.
- Prize for “Social Commitment” by the E.I.P. (Ecole Instrument de Paix), Italian Section, Rome.
- September 14th 2003: Prize “Silver Sprint 2003” on the occasion of the Elderly Festival.
- December 11th 2003: First Prize “A racket for social activities”, by the Association “Tennis Amico Handicap”, Gragnano (NA).
- December 29th 2003: Appointed as “Honorary Member” by Lions Club Randazzo (ME).
- May 16th 2004: Sicily Prize “Proserpine 2004”, Municipality of Caravaggio (BG), Coenobium of Storia Patri of Enna and its province, “Land of myth and Norman Saga”.
- “Faber” Prize, Rome.
- November 29th 2005: National Prize for Excellence, Edition 2005, “Homeland Prophets”.
- November 30th 2005: Prize for the International Day of the Mountain, by the President of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, Palazzo del Quirinale, Rome.
- December 22nd 2006: appointed as “Honourary Member”, by Confindustria Enna.
- June 15th 2007: candidate for a Honoris Causa Degree by the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Catania.
- September 14-15th 2007: Prize “Kiwanis Italia”, San Marino Republic.
- December 9th 2007: Prize “Silver Eagle 2007” for Evangelization and Hard Work.
- July 19th 2008: Dioscuri Prize, Tindari (ME), Nebrodi Park Organization, as an outstanding personality within the Italian culture for his studies, initiatives and promotion of the Sicilian culture around the world.
- May 30th 2009: “High Honorary Prize”, by Rotary Club “Paul Harris Fellow”.
- June 4th 2010: “Red Heart 2010 Prize”, solidarity event sponsored by the Italian Red Cross and other World Associations such as “Mezza Luna Rossa” and “Cristallo Rosso”.
- September 12th 2013: Prize by the Association of Favignana Sport Yacht Club, acknowledging Father Luigi Ferlauto as a “Sicilian Excellence”. Plaque for the “Majority stakeholder” – 51% – of the Open City.
- November 21-24th 2013: Prize “The tree of Social Doctrine”, conferred by the BB S.p.a. in Verona during the Festival on Social Doctrine 2013.
- October 20th 2014: The chairman of the association “Splendida Dimora-ONLUS” conferred the title as “Honorary Member” of the International Club “to go behind….yes, you can!” to Father Luigi Ferlauto, as a “Planner of the future in which he believes”, inspired by the Grand Partner in his marvelous experience, as promoter of the Open City, based in Troina, a city where “everybody is somebody to be loved”, an “evergreen” Priest aged 92; Cisternino (BR).
Main publications by Luigi Orazio Ferlauto
- Gocce di rugiada (Dews), 1946
- Un progetto per un nuovo millennio (A project for the upcoming millenium), 1995
- Un lungo cammino… (A long journey…), 2000
- I Volontari dell’Oasi (Oasi’s Volunteers), 2001
- La Città Aperta nel Mediterraneo e nel mondo (The Open City in the Mediterranean Area and around the world), 2001
- Lettera di un prete ai potenti della terra (Letter of a priest addressed to the mighty of the world), 2001
- L’Oasi per il tuo benessere fisico, psichico e spirituale (Oasi for your physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing), 2002
- I miei ottant’anni (My Eighties), 2002
- La Fondazione Oasi Città Aperta (The Foundation “Oasi Open City”)
- I Passi di un lungo cammino (Steps of a long journey)
- È bello sognare la Città Aperta (How beautiful dreaming of the Open City)
- I Volontari dell’Oasi: corrieri dell’amore (Oasi’s Volunteers: the couriers of love)
- Vademecum del volontario dell’Oasi (Oasi Volunteer’s Vademecum)
- 59 anni di sacerdozio – 82 anni di vita (59 years of priesthood – 82 years of life)
- OCAF – Oasi Città Aperta Fondazione (OCAF Foundation)
- Oasi Città Aperta dove ognuno è qualcuno da amare (Oasi Open City, where everybody is somebody to be loved)
- Faccia a faccia con padre Ferlauto nel cuore dell’Oasi di Troina (Face-to-face with Father Ferlauto, in the heart of Oasi in Troina)
- Sono un prete che crede in Dio (I am a priest who believes in God)
- L’Oasi di Troina – un miracolo in Sicilia (Oasi in Troina – a miracle in Sicily)
- 83 anni di vita – 60 anni di sacerdozio – 50 anni per l’Oasi (83 years of life – 60 years of prieshood – 50 years for Oasi)
- Una proposta per una nuova organizzazione al servizio dei deboli (A proposal for a new organization of services addressed to the weakest)
- Il Grazie dell’Oasi (Oasi’s Thanksgiving), 2007
- OCAF – una scelta (OCAF – a choice)
- Dall’alto dei miei 90 anni (A gaze from my Nineties)
- Se l’Amore diventa Potere (When Love becomes Power)
- OCAF – I volontari dell’Oasi (OCAF – Oasi’s Volunteers)
- L’Alfabeto dei Collaboratori (Collaborators’ Alphabet)
- Per saperne di più (To learn more)
- Forza della fede – Fascino dell’impossibile (The strength of faith – The fascinating Impossible)