The twins Massimo and Franco Camisasca were born on November 3, 1946 in Milan. With their parents Ennio and Mariangela, they spent the first years of their lives in Leggiuno, in the province of Varese, near Lake Maggiore. The family moved back to Milan in September of 1953. A few years later, in the classrooms of the high school Berchet, the young Massimo would encounter a priest who would mark his life forever: Fr. Luigi Giussani. He was fascinated by Giussani’s presence. He followed this priest, becoming part of Gioventù Studentesca (GS), a group of high school students who got together to talk about the important things in life. He would later become one of the group’s leaders. After high school he went to the Catholic University of Milan where he majored in philosophy. During his college years, he was involved both in the leadership of Catholic Action in Milan and Giussani’s young new movement. These were really important years for Camisasca, in which he was called to communicate the Christian life to many others, thus catalyzing the maturation of his vocation to the priesthood.
With the approval and support of Giussani, Camisasca entered a seminary near a missionary community in the diocese of Bergamo (northeast of Milan) where he would be ordained to the priesthood in 1975. He moved to Rome in 1978 to manage public relations between Communion and Liberation and the Holy See. In 1981 he held a radio program called “Word of Life” for several months and began writing and publishing books. Throughout the seventies and eighties, he taught philosophy in high schools and universities. In 1989 he taught Metaphysics and Epistemology at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Rome, where he was the vice president for four years.
With Fr. Giussani’s encouragement, Fr. Massimo Camisasca and a handful of other priests in Rome founded the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo. Camisasca signed the document which established the community as an Association of the Faithful in 1985. He was appointed moderator general and rector of the seminary, and the Fraternity became his primary task.
The Fraternity was recognized as a Society of Apostolic Life in 1989 and the first missionaries left Rome in 1990. A growing number of young men who came mainly from Italy, but also from other countries, entered the seminary. With the opening of the first missions, Camisasca started traveling around the world to visit various communities.
The Fraternity was recognized by Pope John Paul II as a Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right on March 19, 1999. Camisasca continued to guide the growth of the community, through welcoming young people seeking to enter the seminary and accompanying them to the priesthood, personally maintaining a relationship with the houses of mission, and sharing responsibility with those priests closest to him. He also continued writing, publishing three volumes on the history of Communion and Liberation and many other books. In 2005 he accompanied the founding of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, an order of religious sisters animated by the same charism as that of the Fraternity.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Camisasca bishop of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla, thus ending his tenure as superior of the Fraternity of St. Charles and beginning his apostolic ministry in the city of Reggio Emilia.