Pronouncing my perpetual vows during the Year of Mercy is a great gift to me, because mine is a story of mercy. When I was 22 I met the movement of Communion and Liberation for the first time. It was a meeting that literally saved my life. I have always had many questions and, especially after my parents got separated, many questions about happiness. These questions were so intense that they pressed me to look for answers equally as intense, and radical. I did lots of beautiful things, going to the depths of every one of my passions. I worked as a waitress, I sang in a bar, I worked in business, I traveled throughout Italy and Europe, but I was not happy. Being the fierce utilitarian that I was, I decided that if God had no use in my life, I could do without him. So, after Confirmation, I stopped going to Church.
I remember September 14, 2004 as if it was yesterday. Since I loved to travel, I asked a priest if I could go with him to Brazil. Fr. Luigi Valentini looked at me and said, “Patrizia, God has chosen you for great things.” It was the most beautiful day of my entire life. We spoke for an hour or so, I confessed my sins, and for the first time in my life I understood that I had found that happiness that I had been searching for and which you recognize only when you find it. I started going to the CLU: studying together, hiking in the mountains, and singing. I could not believe that a friendship like this could exist. Then there was Brazil. I was there for three months and I was completely awed by the way Fr. Luigi treated the people there. Nonetheless, I was scared of the idea of giving my entire life to God. Meanwhile I had started a doctorate in Business Economics, including a period of time in the United States. And yet right then, an even more fascinating encounter came my way, one that would turn all my plans upside down: it was my encounter with Rachele at the Meeting of Rimini in 2007. She was able to help me see the deepest desires of my heart, and for this I decided to follow her.
I entered the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles seven years ago, with great enthusiasm. I found the first two years in the convent, though, to be very difficult due to the changes it asked of me. I wanted to run away. One day a friend asked me, “Why do you want to escape from the place where God wants to save you?” He was right—in this place I had finally found someone who told me the truth of myself, and for this I am grateful to my sisters and my superiors. I pronounced simple vows in 2013. Wearing our habit allowed me to discover who I really am. I had been afraid of the habit, but as soon as I started wearing it I became more myself. I could finally recognize my true beauty, that is, the beauty of belonging to Someone. Finally I could tell the whole world, “I belong to Jesus!”
As the years pass, and I “soak in” the life of our house, praying the psalms, receiving the sacraments, and judging things together with my sisters, I am discovering that I have a new heart, a new forma mentis. Every day, as I ride the bus to Doposcuola [a middle school homework group] at the parish of Magliana and I meet someone’s gaze, or I exchange a word or two, that stranger who I meet becomes mine forever. This way of looking at others is the gift of the Spouse who wants to share his mission more and more with his beloved. And this is exactly what my heart desires.