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The first international course, which was planned as one of the training initiatives of Strategic partnership for representatives of religious communities’ project (STRAPAC project), funded by Erasmus + programme in October last year, took place from 8th to 14th of October 2018 in Italy (Bedonia, Parma and Piacenza). The course was attended by more than 20 priests, nuns, monks, professionals in theology and other representatives of religious communities from Italy, Norway, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece. The participants in the course received an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the social and volunteer work at a parish level in the regions of Bedonia, Parma and Piacenza, and to absorb good practices and experience in this field. They also had a chance to learn both how to organize fundraising campaigns and how to search funds for projects tackling social exclusion, but also to interact with people of different cultural, religious and professional background and to share good practices and own experience to help people with fewer opportunities at local level.

On  October 9th, Rev. Lino Ferrari, Rector of the Seminary of Bedonia (Seminario Vescovile di Bedonia) and Enrico Bricca, deputy Chairman of #GALdelDucato, welcomed all the participants along with Ms. Carla Cavallini, the local coordinator of the project on behalf of the Italian partner, who introduced the programme of the seminar for the forthcoming days. Gelu Calina, from the Centre for dialogue between sciences and theology of the University of Craiova (Universitatea Craiova), Romania (the lead partner of the project), introduced the purposes and the activities of STRAPAC project. While the first day of course was coming to its end, the STRAPAC staff continued to work on the financial issues and on the organisation of the 2nd #STRAPAC international course foreseen in #Bulgaria from 18th to 24th of November this year.

On the next day, the participants were brought to Caritas Diocesana di Piacenza-Bobbio where they had to learn how to deal with poverty and people in need. Welcomed and guided by Giuseppe Chiodaroli and Massimo Magnaschi, the participants to the 1st Erasmus+ STRAPAC international training course got acquainted with the main services of  #Caritas of the Diocesi di Piacenza-Bobbio. They took lunch later at the soup kitchen, run by the organization. After the lunch, the learners visited Associazione La Ricerca Onlus. The group was led  around by Mara Verderi at the "Centro Don Zermani", now home for many refugees and asylum seekers. The day concluded with a guided visit to the Piacenza Cathedral and to the famous Guercino frescoes, which was offered by the Diocesi di Piacenza-Bobbio.

On October 11th, Carlo Berni, the Mayor of Bedonia, welcomed the participants. The programme for the day included a presentation on the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund 2014-2020, which was delivered by Nubia Tagliaferro.  The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), which supports EU countries' actions to provide material assistance to the most deprived, was presented to the participants by Carla Cavallini. The programme continued with Prof. Davide Tacchini’s lecture on the Muslim views of Christianity and the West in the 21st century. Davide Tacchini is a research fellow and project coordinator at the Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany and Visiting Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at the Università degli Studi di Parma, Italy. His lecture was followed by a presentation of the social cooperatives according to the Italian model, which was delivered by Samuele Bertoncini from Confcooperative Piacenza at Seminario Vescovile di Bedonia.

The participants to the 1st Erasmus+ STRAPAC international course concluded their third day of activity with a guided tour to the Seminario Vescovile di Bedonia, the museums and the park led by Rev. Lino Ferrari, Rector of the Seminary of Bedonia.

On 12th of October the trainees visited the Forum Solidarietà - Centro di Servizi per il Volontariato in Parma led by Rosanna Pippa willing to learn more about what their mission, purposes, services are.

The training course was concluded with a visit to Parmigiano Reggiano dairy for a wine & cheese tasting on the 13th of October, followed by meeting with Father Jurie Ursachi, responsible for the Romanian Orthodox Community of Saint Daniel in Piacenza, who presented the parish and its activities in the fields of culture, social inclusion and ecumenical dialogue.

In the meantime, the documentary film, which is currently being developed under the project, was shot and few interviews were taken from parish priests in the social cooperative of Parrocchia di Sant’Antonio Abate a la Dozza in Bologna and in Caritas, Piacenza. 

More information about the course and its programme can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/STRAPAC.EU/