Calling in concentric circles
My name is Christian Lefta and I was born in 1993 in Bisaccia, in the province of Avellino. My mother is Italian and my father Albanian, and I spent my childhood and adolescence in the small town of Andretta, a few kilometres from Bisaccia, in the green Irpinia region. With the Apennines of Campania in my eyes but the sea (Mediterranean) in my heart, I grew up loving Guccini’s songs, chess, philosophy and detective stories. Sensitive and reserved, but also curious and determined, like everyone else, I think I am a mixture still in transformation. Today I reread my life as concentric circles, a progressive dilation of horizons. A physical but also inner journey from the ‘small old world’ of the provinces to the deep north, guided by a desire that begs to be seen: to be a man of God, for others.
After graduating from high school in Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi in the summer of 2012, I realised this desire by living a year of discernment and service in the parish of Lioni, and then, in the autumn of 2013, by effectively entering the interregional seminary of Posillipo in Naples connected with the Pontifical Theological Faculty of Southern Italy, where I lived the five years of formation for the priesthood and the study of philosophy and theology. The seminary represents for me the experience of a possible fraternity and the maturation of the experience of God, through the discovery of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.
The Ignatian element, thanks to the presence of the Jesuits, opened up a question about the vocational form that asked me for a further shift in horizon: I felt that the form of the Society represents a “plus” to become that man of God at the service of others that I wished to be. But, according to the principle of gradualness (concentric circles…), it was not yet time for the Society. So in September 2018, I left Naples and my diocese of origin, the diocese of Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi, and left for Villa S. Ignazio in Trent, where I spent a year as a resident volunteer within the social housing cooperative. It was a strong experience of sharing that made me grow in humanity and that somehow confirmed my desire for service. In August 2019, still feeling alive the desire for the Society in the midst of the many external and internal often discordant stimuli, thanks to the help of my spiritual director, I stepped forward. In October 2019 I was welcomed into the Jesuit community of Villa S. Giuseppe in Bologna to live a year of discernment more specific to the Society within the project On the road to Damascus. During the year, the main tool for discernment was the SEEL programme (Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life), which I lived with university students at the Poggeschi Centre. In October 2020 I entered the novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus in the community of Genoa. The last circle does not close at all, but opens up a greater horizon to be discovered. And the journey continues.