I was born in Meda, a town in Brianza. Ever since I was young, my family communicated to me the faith and a love for the movement, Communion and Liberation. My parents never drilled me with long speeches about God, and, especially in this area, they never forced me to do anything. I am grateful to them for this. I grew up with the certainty that God exists and that He is good. I never doubted His existence. When I was 13, I had an encounter that decisively changed my life. I met two people, Carlo and Francesco, who even today are two of my best friends. With them I learned the importance of friendship ; I understood how life is more beautiful if it is shared. At that time, I wasn’t yet aware of the fact that this friendship was a gift from God to my life; he had silently started attracting me to Himself. However I was aware that I was living something beautiful—something that rendered me happy. We grew up together with the desire to be able to live the same friendship that our parents lived. Watching them, we learned to enjoy life.
It was during a vacation with them when, for the first time, I thought about the priesthood. It was the summer of 2007. I was enrolled in my third year studying Cultural Heritage at the Catholic University of Milan. It was a difficult moment. Few months prior one of my most important relationships had fallen apart. At that time which was so confusing for me, I remember a question that emerged in me that has never left me since: upon whom can my life lean for support, without running the risk that one day it will all end?
In a tiny town, lost in Puglia, a Brazilian priest who I haven’t seen again started celebrating mass, praying for priestly vocations. I remember feeling the invitation directed precisely at me, though my response was a dry, “No thanks!” That day marked the beginning of my fight with God. This idea would not leave me, but my fear was overbearing and I continued trying to escape. Going back to college after the summer was amazing. God had entered my life, distancing me from the superficiality with which I had been living. From then on all circumstances became an occasion to respond to the Lord who was calling me, even within my studies! I carry with me the memory of two great friends who accompanied me. From Andrea I learned dedication to the Movement, and from Alessandro I learned the love for Jesus.
The final trial was the period of falling in love. Every day it was a fight. I wanted to understand but I was always more and more confused. How could I choose between two profoundly beautiful, but evidently incompatible things? At that time I met the Fraternity of St. Charles. What struck me more than anything else was seeing priests who did not renounce their individual personalities, who were available to leave on mission giving all of their life to Christ and most of all, who were happy. I started desiring to be like them. I too wanted to be totally Christ’s. And finally I gave in. I am indebted to Fr. Massimo, who courageously accepted me in the seminary and in what is now my family.
In my life I learned to come to know and love Christ thanks to the many friends that he gave me. For this reason, as the phrase for my priestly ordination, I chose: No one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. I have received a precious treasure that I want to share with the world.
Giuseppe Cassina can be seen in the photo with the young people from the parish, San Juan Bautista, in Fuenlabrada, a town just outside of Madrid, where he is on mission.