Finding the value that I was seeking

Daniele Bonanni was ordained to the priesthood this past June 24th. We propose the story of his vocation.

Daniele Bonanni, 33 anni, vive nella casa di Nairobi (Kenya). Nella foto, mentre gioca con alcuni bamb
Daniele Bonanni, 33 years old, lives in the house of Nairobi (Kenya). Pictured: Daniele playing with some children.

I remember practically nothing about that week in the mountains during middle school and yet, after all this time, a fact remains indelibly with me. On our way down the mountain, the priest who was guiding us made us stop in front of an immense panorama of valleys and mountains, which weaved all the way to the horizon before us. It was a sight that made me feel like a speck in an immense universe and it was almost frightening. The priest, however, told us that each of us was worth much more than all those mountains. In fact, those mountains would have been meaningless without anyone looking at them, while we had meaning on our own, even without them, because we were wanted. From that moment on, I began to look for where the great value of my life was.

I grew up in a family of the Movement of Communion and Liberation and I must thank God for this. This vacation in the mountains was just an episode of the education that I’ve received. In my years of childhood, a seed of certainty was placed within me about the fact that my life was something good, a marvel whose value was worth discovering. Thus, I began to study and to play soccer. Mostly to play soccer. It came easily to me and I found in it a fount of hope about the value of my life. I realized, however, that this was not enough. Soccer, in fact, although it was exciting, was like a positive parentheses in my day, but the rest of it remained unchanged. My life was divided into stagnant compartments, which all required a different “me.”

I discovered that, thanks to those simple gestures of friendship with Jesus, my whole life flourished

It was in my high school years that I met my first real friends. They were kids who followed Jesus in their lives, in every aspect of their lives. Everything in fact had a place in that friendship. If a loved one was sick, they would go on pilgrimage together. If someone was struggling in their studies, they would help them. Movies were watched, the world was discovered by traveling and meeting different people, life was spent together, and life was like a single symphony played by many different instruments. It was as if those compartments had been opened and placed around a center of gravity that held them together and illuminated their meaning.

In the years of university, I returned to my search for that “great value” for which I was so thirsty. I studied engineering and, after a while, I began to work. I thought that I had reached what I had dreamed of, and yet, I was not happy. It seemed that life had become reduced to a pre established plan that wasn’t making me happy. Yet again, life began to become disunified, just like when I was playing soccer. It was at that time that I met Fr. Maurice, an old Jesuit priest, serene and in peace, always and in every place, free to truly love each person that he encountered. In a word, he was a unified man. For the first time in 26 years, after going to him for confession, a strange thought came to me: “Perhaps God is calling me to be like Fr. Maurice: a missionary priest.” Deep down, the times in my life when I was actually happy were those in which my life was united because every aspect of it was in relationship with Jesus.

In front of my apprehension, Father Maurice was not perturbed and pointed out to me that vocation is not something we have to create ourselves, or that we have to deserve or build, but it is already given and we just have to recognize it. Here was my great “value.” I discovered that what made my life wonderful was not something I had to manufacture or earn; it was something that only needed to be recognized. What makes our life a great adventure is discovering why that gift was given, not working to deserve it. I began going to Mass every day after work, praying more consistently, meditating on the Gospel and seeing Fr. Anas once a month in Milan. I discovered that, thanks to those simple gestures of friendship with Jesus, my whole life flourished. Relationships in the office, with friends and with family became truer, more intense, because they were all oriented toward the discovery of that indestructible core, which was my relationship with God. Here at last was the true value, the unity of life I was seeking and true happiness. There was nothing more to fear then. In order to never leave this fullness again, I applied to join the Fraternity of St. Charles. And so it was.

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