If I think back at how the Lord entered into my life, calling me to become a priest, I must admit that there were innumerable signs which, little by little, swelled up inside of me and made me consider the idea of giving myself completely to Christ. I would say that it was a long preparation with which the Lord showed me his will ever more clearly.
The first encounter with the Lord occurred through my family, especially my parents, and then also thanks to my grandparents, and aunts and uncles. I grew up in a family which for me was and continues to be a mirror image of divine love, gratuity and mercy.
The Christian community in my hometown, Macherio, provided yet another environment where I was able to experience the closeness of the Lord. I remember Fr. Giuseppe Corti, the parish priest who gave birth to the group of altar servers and who guided me during all of my childhood. I also remember the assistant pastor, Fr. Massimo Donghi, with whom we shared many years of parish summer camps. Then there was the sports team with its various coaches, the team of catechists, the theater group… I was always immersed in an environment which spoke to me directly and indirectly of the beauty and the joy of being a Christian.
Then came the years at University: I enrolled in the School of Economics at the Catholic University of Milan, where I had the opportunity of meeting the movement of Communion and Liberation. Those years were decisive to understand better where the Lord was calling me, thanks to the encounter with Fr. Giussani, through his writings, thanks to some priests who guided the University students, and then especially thanks to some precious friendships. I would come back home with the desire to tell of what I was living at the University: the charitable work, the School of Community, the Alpine Choir… First and foremost, though, a fire grew inside of me which spured me to go into the world, notwithstanding my shyness. I remember that I was excited about teaching catechism to a group of students at the parish, and that I desired to make myself available for the daily mass and to collaborate in the initiatives proposed at the parish.
So many other facts then occurred during the years between the University and a period of work at a company in Monza. The death of Saint John Paull II became the occasion to get to know better the extraordinary life of a great pope who had impassioned me with his courage and certainty. By chance, I also read a book on the life of Padre Pio which enkindled in me a desire to give myself completely and without limits to Christ, who died for the love of man. The experience of charity working with disabled persons, while collaborating with the Alecrim Association, allowed me to discover the joy that comes from giving oneself gratuitously to those most in need. Then I discovered the existence of the Fraternity of St. Charles. I read some of the books of its founder, Fr. Massimo Camisasca, and I became friends with some of its priests. It was in this way that a path, for which I can only be grateful to the Lord today, started to gain consistency.
Tommaso De Carlini