Sister Francesca of the Missionaries of St. Charles will pronounce her perpetual vows on April 4. This is the story of her vocation.

I remember very well the day in which the life of my brother and I changed: it was the summer of ’93 and we were playing foosball underneath the porticoes with our longtime friends. Luca mentioned that the following day he would go and try to sell his used textbooks to make some money. It wasn’t particularly interesting, except that the place where he would be to was much more than a mere store. It had been organized by students from Prato [in Tuscany] and Graziano, my brother’s religion teacher. They were normal teenagers who had happened to discover that Jesus wasn’t that boring God taught in catechism —as we used to sing with Luca Carboni— but a real person who is present and whom you can meet in a group of friends. It was He who truly made everything beautiful —even studying— and made it possible that joy be eternal and that pain not be senseless. “Either Christ or nothing” they would tell us, and tell everyone. They would spend all of their time verifying and communicating to everyone this beautiful claim of which they were so certain. So they ended up telling us, who couldn’t have cared less for the Church or Church Doctrine.
Our parents taught us that love is the most important thing by literally spending all of themselves for us. We were pampered with love instead of spoiled with material things. But this love had nothing to do with God. It was human love, full of great dignity, yet unable to have the last word on pain. During my second to last year of high school, my dad and superhero suddenly became ill. He suffered a stroke and slowly started to lose his strength, his independence, and gradually, his primary functions. During those years the Lord surrounded me with incredible witnesses: my mother, whose love and care for my dad made me want to not be content with anything less than what I saw in her; my dad, whose initial anger and pain were transformed into a peace which physically changed his gaze; all my friends from Communion and Liberation who kept us close company, becoming new brothers and sisters even after Luca’s departure to the US and my departure for Rome. These new friends were the ones to show me what my dad, just prior to becoming ill, did not believe: that what we had met with Giuventù studentesca could be true for ever. It wasn’t just some teenage affair.
The encounter with Fr. Paolo and Rachele enthralled me in a new way. They had the same desire which had grown in my heart over the years: to bring the beauty I had met to everyone so that they could see to Whom I belonged, leaving me no room for second thoughts. I even found that they shared my questions regarding the great love for my homeland and for my loved ones, and above all, the certainty that happiness could only be found in the situation and place I was already in, not elsewhere. How was it possible? We had never met before, and even then we didn’t know one another very well. Yet the little I had seen was enough: I wanted to be with them forever.
At fifteen, through the encounter with Giuventù studentesca, Christ decided to meet me and I began to follow him. With time, and especially with the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles, I began to discover that giving myself to Him was not a onetime event, but rather a daily experience. I desire to spend the rest of my life deepening this discovery and sharing it with whomever the Lord may choose.

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