News Story

Canadians Volunteer at Rome Italy Temple Open House

Doors to the Rome Italy Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been open to visitors for the past four weeks. Canadian volunteers are helping to usher thousands of visitors through the temple daily. The volunteers have two things in common: a deep love for Jesus Christ and a love for Italy.

An announcement to construct a temple for the Church is always cause for local celebration, but the announcement to construct a temple in historic Rome has been celebrated worldwide. The Rome Italy Temple is one of 201 temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints currently in operation, under construction or recently announced. Nine are in Canada: Vancouver British Columbia Temple, Cardston Alberta Temple, Calgary Alberta Temple, Edmonton Alberta Temple, Regina Saskatchewan Temple, Winnipeg Manitoba Temple, Toronto Ontario Temple, Montreal Quebec Temple and Halifax Nova Scotia Temple. Church members deem temples to be houses of God where the highest sacraments of faith occur.

After a temple is constructed, all are welcome to visit and tour the edifice during an open house. Information and explanation is also made available. The Rome Italy Temple open house was scheduled to conclude on February 16, 2019. Due to its high volume of visitors — over 7,200 on the last day — the open house was extended to February 23, 2019.

Vanna and Benedetto Parisi emigrated from Firenze (Florence) to Toronto, Ontario, in 1984. One of many highlights of their Rome Italy Temple service has been to welcome relatives and friends to the temple. Ben said of the experience, “It was very special for me to share the sacredness of the temple with my family.”

Speaking of their volunteer experience in general, Vanna expressed, “This is how I want heaven to be. I can’t imagine it being any different.” Her reference was to the many families who visited the temple, the diversity of people and faiths who respectfully came to learn, the sacrifices of many dedicated workers, and the Spirit of the Lord, which accompanied it all.

For Rose Zuccarelli Sutton of Edmonton, Alberta, her service in Rome has in part been a reunion. Rose served a full-time mission in Rome from 2014 to 2015, during which time the temple was under construction. Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, by first-generation immigrants, Rose speaks Italian and loves her Italian heritage. She joined the Church when she was 20 years old. Serving as both a missionary and temple volunteer has expanded her knowledge and love for her family and heritage. “I was thrilled to be invited to help with the open house,” said Rose. “I experienced many miracles as I helped with security, gave tours and welcomed thousands of visitors.”

Debbie Brodie Balzotti, originally from St. Thomas, Ontario, and her husband, Mark Balzotti, are currently serving a full-time mission in the Italy Rome Mission. They have taken time out of regular missionary duties to welcome visitors and conduct tours of the temple. Debbie said of her experience, “It has been wonderful to see thousands of Italians visit the temple. Visitors commented on the peaceful spirit they felt and had tear-filled eyes at the end of the tour. The Spirit was very strong.”

Brian and Cindy Pitcher from Cardston, Alberta, and Reed and Danielle Piepgrass from Calgary, Alberta, are serving full-time temple missions in Paris, France. When the Paris France Temple closed for its semi-annual two-week maintenance, the Pitchers and Piepgrasses forfeited their vacation to volunteer at the open house in Rome.

After the last tour on February 23, 2019, the temple will close in preparation for dedication services March 10–12, 2019.

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