During the first year that I was in seminary, Fr. Massimo told me that many priestly vocations are born from the prayers of parents who offer their sons to Jesus. That year, returning home for Christmas, I asked my parents if they had done the same. My mom, moved, responded that Fr. Angelo had suggested that they offer to God their firstborn, which they then did. I think that my vocation was born from this gesture.
There are three events through which the Lord made me aware of my desire to become a priest. During the summers when I was in high school, I went to work as a waiter in St. Moritz. One evening, the head waiter asked me to serve at a wine and cheese tasting. It was splendid, and I fell in love with the culinary arts. When the tasting was finished, Francesco and I began to clean up. On the buffet, there was an enormous piece of grana cheese. We looked at each other and, just like that, we began to devour it. The head waiter saw us and then told me, “See: you don’t know to savor the wine and the cheese because you grab everything immediately, just like you don’t really know how to savor the kisses from your girlfriend because you want to grab her all at once.” No one had ever taken so seriously my desire to savor beauty. Those words began to excavate in me, in an imperceptible but constant way, like raindrops that fall on rock. During the year, I betrayed that promise time and again, but the desire to savor beauty more than how I had been doing instinctively always returned to surface.
Second fact: the summer after my final exams of high school, I was again at St. Moritz. I was carrying a pile of plates towards the dining room and was thinking about how September was already close. At a certain point, I stopped and said to myself, “I like being a waiter, I could do it for my whole life.” Another two steps and another thought, a new thought, that fell like a bomb into my head: “But if it’s so beautiful serving the people here, how beautiful would it be to serve the Lord. I will become a priest.” It seemed like such a clear idea that, the day after, I called one of the teachers that followed GS. I told her what was going through my head and I asked her if there was a seminary of CL. About one thing I had no doubts: whatever my vocation was going to be, it would have had to come to fruition within the Movement that had helped me to touch the beauty and the carnality of the faith. And, thanks to this phone call, I found out about the Fraternity of St. Charles.
Some days later, I hopped on a train and went to Rome to meet Don Massimo. I told him my story and about my desire to enter the seminary. I felt known and loved in a new way. While he spoke, I knew I would have followed his indications even if he had told me to go and become a construction worker. He told me that we need to do the will of God, and that in order to do it we need to seek to understand what He asks of us. Before entering, I needed to verify together with Fr. Matteo Invernizzi, a priest of the Fraternity, to see if the Lord was really calling me to the priesthood. He told me to go to Milan to study philosophy, to live as intensely as I could the life of CLU and to follow Fr. Pino, a priest of the Fraternity that teaches at Cattolica.
After graduation, I entered the House of Formation of the Fraternity of St. Charles and now I live in the beautiful house of Kenya together with five other priests. That promise that was made to me the evening of the tasting at St. Mortiz, to savor everything one hundred times more, the Lord is keeping, even if I don’t see too much of good wines and cheese here where we are!
(Luca Montini, from Brescia, 29, is on mission in Nairobi, at the parish of St. Jospeh. Above, with one of the kids of Ujiachilie, a charitable organization dedicated to persons with disabilities).