Alessio Cottafava becomes a priest on the 25th of June after completing his formation in Santiago del Chile where he is on mission. This is his story.

I was born in the quiet Bassa reggiana where my parents’ firm faith and simplicity of heart welcomed my life with open arms from the very beginning. However, at thirteen, I began to suffer because I desired that someone come to save me. All of a sudden, the places where I used to hang out when not at home stopped being welcoming and friendly. It was then that I encountered a friendship among a group of teenagers at the parish. I found myself loved, esteemed, and surrounded by great and fascinating people. I never left them again: little by little, decision after decision, spending time with them allowed me to mature the awareness of a profound belonging, with roots deeper than I could have thought.

At the heart of this experience was Christ, who gave substance and content to the life shining before my eyes: a spectacle of unity which had flowered in the years following the passionate guidance of Fr. Romano.

When I started to study Modern Literature at the University of Parma, I encountered the people from Communion and Liberation and I stuck to them definitively. The first year was literally a taste of paradise. I was surrounded by people who loved me because they were in love with Christ, so much so that they eventually decided to consecrate their whole lives to Him, some of them in the big family of the Fraternity of St. Charles.

In the meantime, I continued to say “no” to a Presence which, with imagination, had come on numerous occasions asking me to say “yes”, to allow Christ to take hold of my life in order to make it great. On one occasion five friars came to my parish for an intense week of mission work with youth. The evening they left I watched them as they squeezed into their small car, barely illuminated by a small interior light, and I thought: “It would be beautiful to live like that!” A few days later a letter arrived from their Superior who, following an intuition, asked me whether I would be interested in living their life. Frightened, I said no and never thought about it again.

All the while, though, thanks be to God, I had also said some
“yeses” through which the experience of abandonment to Christ became evermore concrete: I experienced risking it all on His discrete suggestions and discovered that I had not been fooled, but rather introduced into a new and even greater embrace. This was the case for the risk taken to pursue a degree with few job options, and for an adventurous engagement that lasted three years.

At that point came a moment of grace which opened me up to the call of God and to a serious discernment. My life then started to blossom starting with my closest relationships and a job teaching at a school. In that environment I was struck by seeing how living an abandonment without reserves, the Lord then made me a luminous sign for others through the gladness he allowed me to live.

All of this confirmed the truth of this path, with its courses and signs which, slowly, brought me to the Fraternity of St. Charles, attracted in particular by the beauty of the life lived in common, by the fact of belonging to the same story, and by the people, notably changed and at the same time, with stupefying evidence, normal, themselves.

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