Jesuit Novitiate
Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus


A musical to try out life

17 May 2019

We’re back from the long Lent experiment. In a previous article, Carmine had mentioned this stage of the novitiate, which we had just experienced. In my case I found myself catapulted to Milan in the rich life of the Leone XIII school, of the Jesuit school network. The “mission” assigned to us was a service in the school, which took the most diverse forms. I would like to talk about one of these, namely a show of the musical Sister Act 2 performed by the high school students of Leo XIII. Now you’d be wondering what a novice has to do with such a show. The answer is not that the musical speaks of nuns and religious and therefore a novice fits in well. I would rather say that this was an experience of which the kids were the protagonists and we have, in a sense, accompanied them. This perhaps reflected an aspect of my Lent experience.

I remember the first days at the Leone, in the embarrassment typical of when entering a new environment yet to be known. Among the many new things they also talked about this musical and we ended up watching some rehearsals. We saw some kids struggling with preparing dances at a very early stage, at the same time a team of mothers and students worked feverishly to bring up multi-purpose sets. For me it was all new, even this show for which so many people collaborated but of which we had only a vague idea. One thing, however, had struck me from the beginning, it was clear the determination to involve all those who wanted to participate, even in non-leading roles: giving a voice to everyone, or at least a way to be useful. This meant organizing a group of about eighty people between students, professors, parents and various external personnel. Not a simple job.

During Lent, however, I truly witnessed the construction of the show. Those that were only steps tentatively put forward became defined choreography, or almost. The songs were refined, the young singers were motivated and the arrangements were prepared. Lines and lyrics were rehearsed again and again to exhaustion. In some cases the students had to resign themselves to the scarce memory of the professors who, like them, tried their hand at the show. And the professors exercised the virtue of patience with the students who tried to avoid tests to attend  the musical rehearsals. Until the long-awaited week of the first show, a few days before the Easter holidays. As in all self-respecting performances the tension right before the show had become a sort of supernatural entity that weighed on students and professors. How did it all conclude?

I have to say that this time, watching the show for me was not as usual. Obviously I was not on stage, but I had witnessed much of the preparation. Above all I thought of all the hardships that each of the kids personally experienced, their timidity, fears, doubts, which at least in passing, had become familiar to me in that month and a half at school. It was interesting to see those adolescents, whom I had met in retreats or in the corridors, absorbed, body and voice in the part they were playing. After the show, in addition to the various compliments I was, in my small way, really satisfied with the work of the boys. Not just for its success. Rather because I had seen all the preparation, in situations that were not easy, that there had been. I thought of the courage and constancy that they had shown to go on stage to sing and dance like that. I was struck most of all by this detail: the story they had recounted was a story of hope, where students like them took in hand the fate of their own school and transformed it through the harmony of song. I was only there in passing, but it was beautiful to share this fragment of a dream which they lived.  And this gave rise to a sense of gratitude for having been able to participate in all this, as well as a prayer for their future, in the dream that God also has in store for them.


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