Il Pellicano: Priest’s Vision a Saving Chance for the Unemployed

Don Ezio brings calm and purpose along with education to students’ lives.

In a small corner of this town known for its large, modern university, Don Ezio, a priest, has decided to do education the old-fashioned way with Il Pellicano, a school for adults without jobs or who want to pursue interests in artisan craftsmanship.

Don Ezio

Don Ezio, Father and founder of Il Pellicano, enjoys a walks in his statue garden behind the school.

Don Ezio, 85, said the name Il Pellicano comes from a medieval legend of a pelican that would feed its chicks with its own blood if fish could not be found. Since then the pelican, he said, has been associated with Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe sacrificed his blood and life to save the souls of mankind.

But to the soft-spoken Don Ezio, the pelican is not just the symbol of his foundation, but has been a guide to his lifestyle in 74 years as a priest. From his gray balding head, to his slow shuffle, he exudes calmness and peace, the same qualities he hopes to bring to education.

“You have to do things for others,” he said. “The world is so bad because we all think about ourselves before others. Men should follow the example of the pelican.”

Don Ezio explained that, unlike traditional universities that grant degrees but don’t provide jobs, he wanted to open a school that would give an education that could be applied to real life jobs. Most of his students come on grants the government provides for the unemployed.

Statue of the Virgin Mary

Statue of the Virgin Mary in Il Pellicano’s garden with a halo made by the twelve stars in the European flag.

While Il Pellicano started off as just that, it has evolved into much more. It is a spiritual center dedicated to the Virgin Mary, an art exhibit, a place for private businesses, a vocational training school, and even a community service center, working with the local justice system by allowing convicts to serve sentences in classes rather than prison.

At Il Pellicano, these combinations of seemingly unrelated organizations have a common theme of devotion to Don Ezio’s goals to improve human good and spiritual well-being.

One such student is a middle-aged man with a friendly demeanor who would have been serving three years for a driving while intoxicated, but instead came to Il Pellicano. He said he has found meaningful close ties with Mary and the art work, which he loves.

To Don Ezio, Il Pellicano is just another part of his goal to, “Make God’s will and love another person as if it were you.”

And the old priest shrugs off compliments.

“Il Pellicano is not too unique or special,” he said. “It’s just doing a duty.”

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About Natalie Craig

I have learned a lot through is project. Coming into it I did not know what to expect and coming out I have not only realized what it takes to be a reporter but gained valuable skills that I truly wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. I have learned to not only approach strangers for information, but to do so in a foreign country and in a foreign language. I was overwhelmed with all the information and helpful experience I received from all the professors and have come out a better writer, a better communicator, and a lot better with iMovie. I’m extremely glad I participated in this program, knowing now that if I can do this, I can do about anything.