I saw all my hesitations and my fears come to an end, and I recognized the Fraternity as the place prepared for me by God to fulfill my life.
“Son, but what kind of man do you want to be? Just a man of culture, or a man who knows what it means to be a man?” It was the last months of the eighth grade when the rector, who had recently taken over my school, addressed this question to me with which he invited me to consider enrolling in the scientific high school that was being inaugurated in the Catholic institution I was attending. That question, thrown out as a sort of challenge and basically incomprehensible for a thirteen-year-old boy, has been indelibly etched in my memory, and I recognize it today as one of the fundamental turning points of my life.
Indeed, without that provocation, the following year I would not have found myself in the class where, thanks to so many classmates and that same rector who also became my Italian professor, I met Gioventù Studentesca and the movement of Communion and Liberation. The true friendship with those classmates, which continues to this day with so many of them, and the passion with which the Italian professor showed us the relevance of everything to the meaning of our lives – “from the particular to the Whole,” as he loved to repeat – gave new depth to that faith to which my family, with great love, had introduced me. In those years of high school came for me the ultimate discovery of the ideal of Christ as a real and, therefore, valid ideal for my life.
It was, however, during the years of university, while I was studying Architecture in Turin, in my city, that, thanks to the friendship with a priest of the Movement, the concrete hypothesis of giving my life to God found its way into me. It was a Sunday afternoon, returning from the Benedictine monastery of the Cascinazza, together with this priest friend, and while I was driving, this question came to me: “And if You, Lord, were asking me to give You all of my life?”. It was destabilizing to recognize this question take shape in me, in the passage from the profundity of my heart to my mind, in a clear way.
I saw all my hesitations and my fears come to an end, and I recognized the Fraternity as the place prepared for me by God to fulfill my life
There followed a period of discernment to discover the origin and meaning of that question that was manifesting itself as persistent and inescapable. While on the one hand, I sensed that my life could be fulfilled in the priesthood -looking at so many luminous witnesses I had encountered up to that point- on the other hand, a concern grew within me that I was facing a life in solitude, as I observed in many cases, and which I felt was untenable. Faced with this anxiety, the priest with whom I was speaking advised me to suspend the path of discernment and concentrate on completing college: “Surely, if the Lord wants to make you more his own, he will make you understand.”
After finishing my studies, I began to work as a professor in the same school that I had frequented as a young man and to collaborate with a few design studios of my city. Despite the fact that my work was interesting and I lived with enthusiasm and passion the many occasions to collaborate professionally that presented themselves and the many interests that filled my life, something unresolved persisted like a constant undertone in my heart and it made me live everything as limited and unsatisfying. I continued to feel the urgency to take up a radical path for my life.
In 2014, the Fraternity of St. Charles inaugurated its new mission in Turin at the Parish of Santa Giulia and a young deacon was sent to teach religion at the high school where I worked. I became fast friends with this young man, roughly my age, and it was he, taking my questions about the Fraternity seriously, who invited me to dinner and introduced me to his brothers.
Spending time in the home of the missionaries of St. Charles, I was immediately struck by the dimension of fraternal communion that I saw feeding their lives. Finally, in the welcoming warmth of that house, after so much waiting, I saw all my hesitations and my fears come to an end, and I recognized the Fraternity as the place prepared for me by God to fulfill my life. Two years later, in September 2016, I would begin my journey of formation in the seminary on Via Boccea together with the brothers who are with me in priestly ordination and have become among the dearest companions of my life.
How beautiful to begin to recognize, looking back, the development of the magnificent design that God is knitting with our lives, beginning with a small “yes”, timid and stuttering, that every day, in the renewal of my availability, becomes reconfirmed, increased and reciprocated with so many unimaginable gifts: giving up everything to follow the Master is truly the hundredfold here below.