The thought of becoming a priest has been with me ever since I was a child. My first memory, albeit confused, goes back to when I was eight or nine years old: I saw that parochial vicar of the church that I went to was happy, which provoked the thought: “If God wants me to become a priest in order to make me happy, then why not?”
In the years that followed, this thought continued to show itself, every now and then. Another fact that made an esteem for the priesthood grow in me happened during my years of elementary school, when a classmate of mine passed away and I decided that I would no longer believe in God: what kind of a God, in fact, would have allowed something of the kind? After a few months, a conversation with the priest of my parish helped me to admit that the project of God was mysterious and this comforted me, reminding me that my classmate was now in the most beautiful place that he could possibly be: with Jesus. Even this dialogue, as simple as it was, allowed me to see the priesthood as something desirable.
Another important figure was my Religion teacher from middle school: in him, for the first time, I saw faith and reason that were working together. It was enough to make me realize that the education I was receiving in my parish was not enough. I began to desire a place where my faith could find a strong connection to all things.
The occasion presented itself in high school: halfway through my first year, thanks to a classmate of mine, I encountered the movement of Communion and Liberation and discovered a companionship of friends that, as I did, desired to understand and to share the connection between Christ and reality. And what returned, strongly, was that thought of the priesthood and the desire to give Him my entire life. When I met the Movement, I also met a girl with whom I fell head-over-heels in love, but she only thought of me as a friend. With her, I discovered for the first time the fullness of virginity, and the beauty of living an affective relationship in the sacrifice of accepting that relationship in the way that God had designed it for my happiness. During those years, I happened to read a book entitled, Above All, Men, which tells the vocation stories of a few priests of the Fraternity. That book was the proof of the fact that what I was confusedly desiring was a real possibility. From that moment forward, my thought of the priesthood became indissolubly associated with the Fraternity of St. Charles.
But, in that same period, I also had a girlfriend: when I began to struggle with the difficulty of reconciling my desire for a family, which I naturally experienced growing up, with the thought of priesthood that was becoming progressively clamorous, we broke up. I began studying at the university with many questions about what God was asking of me. In Bologna, I asked Fr. Marco Ruffini, a priest of the Fraternity who I had recently met, for help. Through my relationship with him, and through three years of actively discerning my vocation, I was able to discover that my life would have been more full if I dedicated it to the construction of the Movement and of the Church. I understood that only through common life could I become fulfilled as a human, and that in lived virginity, my affectivity would be fully realized. And so, in September of 2013, after graduating, I entered the seminary.
Simone Valentini, 30 years old, from Ravenna, will continue his mission in Taipei (Taiwan), where he spent his year of diaconate. In the photo, he is pictured during a moment of singing.