Priest & Founder
of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist
1839 – 1910
Birth of Alfonso Maria Fusco
Fr. Alfonso Maria Fusco, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist, was born on March 23, 1839, in Angri (Salerno), from Aniello Fusco and his wife Giuseppina Schiavone. The couple had celebrated their marriage in the Collegiata of St. John the Baptist on January 31st, 1834. For four long years, the crib, ready to welcome a long-desired baby, remained hopelessly empty.
At that time in Pagani, near Angri, the relics of St. Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori were being venerated. Here, in the year 1838, while Anilello and Giuseppina were praying, a Redemptorist Priest, Fr. Fracesco Saverio
Alfonso Maria Fusco in school
Alfonso Maria soon revealed a personality that was meek, docile andaffable. While growing up he would shine above other children for his goodness and love toward all. His parents entrusted him to Monsignor Gaetano De Angelis, and other Priests, for his formation, both academic and religious. His mother, Josephine, instilled in him a devotion to the Blessed Mother of Sorrows, devotion which will accompany him for the rest of his life. He was only eleven years old when he shared with his parents his desire to become a Priest. To his mother, he said: "Mamma, I want to become a Priest. Tell me if I am worthy to enter the Seminary." Looking at him with profound tenderness she replied: "Go, my son, and live a saintly life!" Alfonso took his mother's words very seriously, and on November 5th, 1850 he entered the Seminary in the Diocese of Nocera dei Pagani.
Don Alfonso would say, afterward: "I was still a Seminarian when I had a dream of Jesus of Nazareth telling me: "Alfonso, you must establish a Congregation of Sisters to be called "Of the Nazarene". You will also open an orphanage for both boys and girls. The land is ready. All you have to do is build. As soon as you become a Priest, this will be a part of your mission."
According to his nephew Msgr. Vincenzo Del Pezzo's testimony, perhaps it was after this dream that Don Alfonso would secretly take the measurements of the wall of his own house whenever he went home for vacation.
To his mother who caught him while measuring the walls, he said: "I just want to figure out how many beds can fit in our house when I begin to gather little orphans.
Remember, mama, that one day this house will welcome many little orphans. Here we will have to pray for the entire world."
On May 29th 1863, a Pentecost Saturday, in the city of Avellino, Alfonso was ordained a Priest by the Archbishop of Salerno, Msgr. Antonio Salomone. Soon after he became a Priest, he dedicated himself to the education and care of little children roaming through the streets of Angri.
He was particularly fond of educating and evangelizing the young, especially the poor and abandoned.
In the rural missions, very quickly he became known for his zeal, for his fidelity to liturgical responsibilities and for his diligence in administering the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where his paternal understanding for the penitents would shine forth.
A school for the poor
At the beginning of his Priesthood, Don Alfonso opened a free elementary school, in his own house, for children, in particular for the neediest ones. He himself would provide books, notebooks, clothes, and food.
As the number of children grew, Don Alfonso obtained permission to use the Chapel of San Jude Thaddeus from the De Angelis family. At his own expense. he provided a statue of the Guardian Angel for this church. In January of 1871, he founded an "Oratorio" under the protection of St. Luigi Gonzaga. This is the reason why the boys were commonly called the "Luigini".
This apostolate flourished for ten years, until the protests of the neighborhood, bothered by the noise of the boys, forced the Abbot of the
Collegiata of St. John the Baptist to request from Don Alfonso the closing of the Oratorio. This causes him Intense suffering. His memories of this apostolate will always remain a mixture of nostalgia and pain.
in 1866 Angri suffered a serious cholera epidemic, which affected thousands of people. Without fear of contagion, Don Alfonso lavished his loving care on so many poor and abandoned people. He took care of them with selfless love and dedication. Inevitably, he got infected.
This forced him to stay in bed for 13 days, during which he even received the Last Sacraments.
Feeling that his end might be near, and upon the advice of Bishop Domenico Ranaschiello, he began to pray to St. Joachim with profound fervour and faith. He even promised him to provide a statue to be venerated by the faithful and to organize a yearly celebration in his honor. Don Alfonso did recuperate and kept his promise.
Foundation of the Institute
Maddalena Caputo was a woman of a strong character and a strong will, with a keen interest in Religious Life. It was an encounter with her that influenced Don Alfonso into accelerating his efforts for the foundation of the Institute.
On September 26, 1878, Maddalena Caputo, along with three other young women, chose to move into the run-down Scarcella house, a neighbourhood of Ardinghi in Angri. These young women longed to consecrate themselves to God through a life of poverty, union with Him and charity expressed in caring and instructing poor little orphan girls.
Thus, the Congregation of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist began. The seed had fallen into the fertile soil of these ardent and generous hearts. Deprivation, struggle, opposition, and trials only served to make it more fruitful and produce abundant growth. Soon after, Scarcella house adopted the name of "Little House of Providence".
Aim of the Institute
The aim of the Institute is to welcome poor children, orphans and abandoned, instill in their hearts a sense of love and fear of God, and, ultimately, contribute to the development of a better society.
Don Alfonso perceived that the need to care for children and the youth was urgent, to instruct them, educate them, raise them from a state of frustration and redeem them from vice and moral degradation. This was intended to restore the dignity of human beings and children of God.
At a time when education was both a privilege of few and forbidden to the poor and to women, Don Alfonso wanted the Sisters to begin their own education, so as to be able to teach the poor. Through education then, would come evangelization, preparing thus the way of the Lord in the hearts of children and of youth.
The little artisans
In 1888, following the invitation of Monsignor Luigi del Forno, Bishop of the diocese of Nocera, Don Alfonso laid the groundwork for the foundation of "artigianelli" to prepare young people to be authentic Christians, as well as expert professionals. He was firmly convinced of the necessity to educate and form young children so that, as adults, they would become neither social problems nor the downfall of family and society.
Don Alfonso rented seven rooms in the palazzo "Jovine" in Angri on September 29 of the same year. With the direction of Maestro Ventura and three orphans, he embarked on the new mission.
Don Alfonso rapidly got organized and in Turin bought expensive printing presses. He also started a shoemaking shop, a bookbinding store, and hired experienced artisans to teach the young.
He would guide the Institute with great wisdom and prudence. As a loving father, he would watch over the Sisters. Most especially, he would watch over the needier little orphans. For them, there was always a place in the little House of Providence, even when food was not sufficient or was lacking altogether.
At this time Don Alfonso would reassure his worried daughters saying: "Don't worry, my daughters! I am going to ask Jesus and He will take care of it!" And Jesus would answer quickly and with great generosity.
One of many episodes
One day, in the little House of Providence there was no wood. Therefore, there was no way they could start cooking. After gathering all the little orphans, Don Alfonso asked them to kneel in front of a statue of the Blessed Mother and told them: "Pray with me with a heart full of fervor."
They were still kneeling before the Blessed Virgin when they heard the screech of a carriage and the hooves of a horse. An unknown person had just sent a truckload of wood for the little House of Providence.
We are useless Servants
On February 5th, 1910, Don Alfonso felt very sick during the night. He asked and devoutly received the Sacraments. On the morning of February 6th, holding a crucifix in his hands, after having blessed with a trembling arm his weeping daughters gathered around his bed, he said: "I am seventy-one years old.
O Lord, I thank you for having given me a long life. We are useless servants." Then, he addressed the Sisters with these words: "Strive after holiness! Be humble and charitable. Love one another, confide in Divine Providence. From Heaven, I will never forget you! I will always pray for you!" It was February 6th, 1910. The faithful servant of the Lord fell asleep forever.
News of his death spread quickly throughout the town. It was on Sunday. That whole day, a never-ending procession of people went to the house to pay homage to the mortal remains of Don Alfonso. In tears, people would say: "The father of the poor died. A Saint just died!"
Saint Alfonso M. Fusco, lived in Angri (Salerno), Italy, from his birth on March 23, 1839, to his death on February 6, 1910. In that same town he founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist on September 26, 1878, with the purpose of evangelizing, educating, and promoting the youth, especially those who were poorest, abandoned and at risk.
In creating such apostolic work, Don Alfonso, was greatly motivated by the socio-political context of his times, during which people were experiencing extreme poverty and moral decline.
Don Alfonso committed his whole being to God's project of salvation with unending energy and creativity, for the good of as many brothers and sisters as he could reach. He brought in from the street many young boys and girls and offered them basic moral, intellectual and professional formation, so that, as adults, they would be able to insert themselves in the workplace and become promoters of justice and peace. In the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth, Don Alfonso passed through the byways of Angri. blessing everyone, especially the children.
Faithful to the Charism received, the Baptistine Sisters continue to carry out God's project that was mediated through Don Alfonso Maria. With generosity and dynamism, they continue to share the gift they received in response to the needs of today's world.
Currently, the Congregation has expanded to Italy, United States of America, Brazil, Chile, Zambia, Canada, India, Philippines, Poland, Korea, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, Malawi, Madagascar, Cameroon, Moldova, and Australia.
On February 12, 1976, the Church officially recognized the heroic virtues of Saint Alfonso Maria Fusco. He was beatified on October 7, 2000 by Pope John Paul II, and was canonized by Pope Francis on October 16, 2016, at St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City.
MINISTRIESVice Provincial Residence
St John the Baptist Community - Superville, Paranaque
Children's Home Ministry
Alfonso Maria Fusco Children's Home - Virac, Catanduanes
Holy Cross Children's Home - Tabaco, Albay
Our Lady of Divine Providence Home - Talisay, Cebu
Retreat and Pastoral Ministries
Sisters of St John the Baptist House of Prayer - Tagaytay
Galilee House of Prayer - Palawig, San Andres, Catanduanes
St John the Baptist Convent - Cagayan de Oro City
St John the Baptist Convent - San Felipe, Zambales
St. Alfonso Maria Fusco Community - Horshiam, Victoria, Australia
Ville St. John Academy
Ville St. John School - Virac
Ville St. John School - Cebu
Ville St. John School - Tabaco
Mother Crucifix Caputo Academy
Holy Child Academy - Kinoguitan Misamis Oriental
Prayer through Saint Alfonso Maria Fusco
Most Holy Trinity, we praise You for the gift of Saint Alfonso Maria Fusco to the Church and to the world. We bless You for the evangelical spirit with which He worked for Your glory and for the good of His brothers and sisters. We thank You for having given him to us as our intercessor and model. May His example guide us in building a world of justice and peace. Through His prayers may we obtain the grace which we so desire. Amen.
3 Glory to the Father…