This is the story of Sr. Maria Anna, Missionary Sister of St. Charles, who made her final vows April 9th.

I was born in Brianza, the fourth of seven children, to a father who is a shoe salesman, passionate about his work, and to a mother who gave herself totally for us. I grew up in a house where we spent time together, with many friends for whom the table would be set with care. From my parents, I received the gift of the faith and life lived together with my siblings allowed God to enter naturally into my day-to-day life. From the sign of the cross that my mother made with us in the morning to the common prayer in the room of the smallest child, before going to bed, when each of us would address God with a certain intention or thanksgiving.

Desiring to live the same friendship and unity of life that I saw in my parents and my siblings, in my junior year of high school, I decided to go to the school of Don Gnocchi, where there is a strong presence of people from Communion and Liberation. There, I met a group of friends that helped me to live the intensity of the desires that I had in my heart. With them, following Fr. Giussani, I began to discover that the Mystery was truly made flesh, that that which my heart truly desired had come to meet me. I was able to experience this in the fullness of studying together, in the enjoyment of singing and eating together, in the charitable work with the sick, in the outings and in the discussions on what was happening in the world. I became more aware, with a growing gratitude, that I was receiving everything. And I began to desire to give everything myself.

For way of my linguistic studies, I spent periods in Spain and in the United States. In these foreign countries, with every visit I was left in wonder at how certain persons were given to me who would become dear. Through them, I was discovering Christ as a companionship that was taking care of me and to whom I could always return, in whatever place I went. Moreover, I became more aware of the universality of what I was living with my friends of the Movement and of how the heart of man is the same, in all places. I think of Rosa, whom I met during a semester in Seville. I became attached to her because I would see her so alive during our lessons and I desired company in my studies, just like I had had in Milan. One day, in the kitchen of my apartment, she told me: “Maria Anna, I am jealous of you because you are always happy. I’m realizing that I need to found my life on something or someone, because otherwise, I’m going to explode.” She had left the Church, but in her loyal and true heart a great nostalgia had arisen. About a month later, in a church in Barcelona, where she had gone as a child, she began to cry. “I want to begin to pray again,” she told me. Some months later, I was in Boston, and in my heart I had the cry of Rosa’s need. A friend invited me to an evening of singing with the young people of CL. Toda la vida grita la verdad, que Su Presencia en nostros está, en el milagro de la comunión, única forma de liberación, we sang with united voices. In the midst of those kids who I did not know and in a place I had never seen before, I remember thinking that, for that presence, I would have gone anywhere in the world, because everywhere and with anyone it is possible to live that same communion that I was experiencing and that I desired so much. Exactly in one of my trips to the United States, I encountered the Fraternity of St. Charles: I was fascinated by the communion among them. “I want to live like this!” I thought, seeing them. Following those priests and seminarians, I arrived to the Missionary Sisters. In the concreteness of that body in which God had placed my life, I discovered that Christ remains, in a communion always more stringent and liberating, that He wants to live with me and with all of the people to whom I will be sent. After the first period of novitiate in Rome, I went for a year to Reggio Emilia, at the service of don Massimo, and then I left for Denver. Last summer I returned to Rome, where I will remain, living in the Mother House and where now I am following the work of the reconstruction of the new convent.

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