Fr. Saverio (Antonio Gennaro) Cannistrà of the Sacred Heart, was born in the Calabrian city of Catanzaro on the 3rd of October of 1958. He studied philology in the Scuola Normale and later he worked for the Einaudi publishing house.
He entered the novitiate of the Italian Province of Tuscany of the Order of Discalced Carmelites in 1985 and made his simple profession on the 17 of September of 1986. He made his solemn profession in 1990 and was ordered priest on the 24th of October 1992.
With a Doctorate in Dogmatic Theology from the Gregorian University of Rome, Saverio Cannistrà, is a member of the Italian Theological Conference (northern area) and has participated in numerous congresses of the Order.
Proficient in several languages, he has given classes in the Faculty of Theology of the Teresianum in Rome and until 2009, was professor of Christology and theological Anthropology in the Faculty of Theology of Central Italy near Florence. Fr. Saverio was elected Provincial Superior for the first time at the Provincial Chapter of Tuscany in 2008.
In the month of May 2015, he was re-elected Superior General at the 91st General Chapter conducted in Avila, Spain.
He is entrusted with the government of the whole Order. Solicitous for the common good, he must foster the life and development of the Order and promote close cooperation between the provinces and the central government.
The better to achieve this he must be in constant contact with the provinces, and make a pastoral visitation of all of them personally or through a delegate during his term of office. (Const. 173).
The main part of his work consists in pastoral and fraternal visitations, in order to know the actual situation, to create communion and exhort the members, both friars and sisters, in their vocation and mission. He also endeavours to participate in meetings, conferences and celebrations. At the same time his visits involve going to the convents of our nuns in a particular region, or attending the reunions of convents, such as the gatherings of Associations and Federations. At the same time he will almost always meet with Secular Order communities, and with other Carmelite groups, first and foremost the Affiliated Institutes.
His work in the curia in Rome is continuous. The object of his travels is to expand the Order, to ensure a good standard of formation, to resolve the difficulties in Provinces, convents or with individuals, to pay particular attention to those centres that are directly dependent on the Generalate, to nourish relations with the Holy See — usually carried out by the Procurator General — for those matters which are within his competence. All this involves listening to and seeking advice from the Definitors and officials at the Generalate. The vitality of modern life has multiplied the amount of correspondence received by traditional as well as modern means. The expansion into new regions and cultures presents its own challenges. The crisis in vocations felt in the older Provinces creates a knock-on effect. Finally, together with the above mentioned activities, the financial dimension cannot be disregarded, which is at times critical.