I have always desired to live with my friends. I am grateful to my parents for introducing me into a community that was greater than themselves: I perceived the community of CL in Bologna as a kind of extended family. My father is a happy man and taught my siblings and I that God gives us a task in our lives. There were always many of his friends around the table of our home: from him, I learned that every person that we meet is worthy of being welcomed, loved and embraced just as they are.
I believe that the missionary desire comes from my mother’s side. In the 80s, my mom was among the first students sent by Fr. Giussani on mission in the United States. Since I was little, her stories made me desire that the friendship I was living with my companions of GS could embrace the whole world.
In 2006, a house of the Fraternity of St. Charles arrived in Bologna. A few months later, a teacher from my high school, Daniele Scorrano, entered the seminary in Rome. I remember that it was in those years that I perceived, for the first time, the desire to give myself totally to Christ.
For my fourth year of high school, I left for a semester abroad in New York. In those months, Daniele wrote to me, telling me about his beginnings in seminary and encouraging me to live my time in the United States as an experience of mission. It was the first time in which I felt that I had been “sent”.
Soon after my return, on the 2nd of February, 2008, two of my closest friends, Francesco and Elena, died in a car accident. For the first time, I perceived that life was something serious and it was even more serious to decide what I would dedicate it to. In my heart, a question emerged that would never leave me: “I could die tomorrow; so for what am I giving my life?” The faces of Ciccio and Elena are captured in the mosaic of Rupnik in the chapel of our seminary. Every morning, their eyes ask me: “For Whom do you want to spend this day?”
I went to Catholic University of Milan to study Economics and in the section of the courtyard that goes from the San Giovanni classroom to the CP, many friendships were born. Between university classrooms, meetings with faculty and dinners in various apartments, I discovered that everything has to do with Christ and the prayer to discover my vocation became even more insistent.
One day I went to the Monumentale cemetery, to the tomb of Fr. Giussani, asking for a sign that would show me the form of my vocation. A few months later, I unexpectedly landed in Brazil, where I took classes in Economics from the university and prepared to write my graduate thesis while working for the association Sem Terra. There, I encountered Fr. Julian de la Morena. Every so often, he would bring me along on the trips he would take to the different countries of Latin America to meet the small communities of the Movement. It was to him that I confided my desire to give my entire life to Christ.
I concluded my year in Brazil by attending World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. Those were extremely intense days, in which my desire to become a missionary priest became increasingly strong. I remember in particular that when Pope Francis, on the beach of Copacabana, said, “Do you all want to build the Church with your lives?”, I was moved and mumbled my own “Yes!” One year later, I was at the gate of the seminary on Via Boccea, where you can still find me today: fourth door on the left, in the hallway of the administrative offices of the Fraternity of St. Charles.
Francesco Babbi, 31 years old, from Bologna, after his ordination will continue to work in Rome as treasurer of the Fraternity, where he worked as a deacon. Pictured, Fr. Babbi during a vacation with middle school students in Rome in July of 2019.