GESUITI noviziato
Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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From home to home

23 Oct 2017

My first and last (up until two weeks ago) visit to Italy was as a thirteen year-old on a school trip: I was more interested in the girls who were with us than in the ‘cultural experience’ my teachers tried to give me. Who could have guessed that I’d next set foot in Italy almost thirteen years later, and to become a Jesuit novice!

I’ll never forget that day, the last of September. The weather was typical for Malta at the end of summer: I was melting like butter in fire –I’ll never miss that merciless sun! More difficult to leave behind were my family and relatives, who were crying and hugging me as if they’d never see me again. But within myself I felt a great joy and the certainty that this choice, after a journey of almost four years, resonated with my deepest desires.

Despite this, I must admit it seemed strange boarding a plane without a mobile phone and in the knowledge that on this flight I would be leaving  my past behind.

One, two three, go!

In no time, Malta disappeared.

A few hours later, we arrived in Bergamo. The weather was cool and grey – to tell the truth, a relief from the oven that was Malta.  A short bus ride later I arrived at the Central Station in Milan, from where I caught a train to Genoa.

During this last leg of the journey, I had lots of time to think and reflect. The reality of this decision and the travel fatigue started to take their toll, and doubts began to form… However, I remembered the love of Jesus, the discernment made, the lights and consolations received: these pushed me on and encouraged me.

Daniel, the Maltese novice from the second year, welcomed me at the station in Genoa in a turquoise Fiat Panda which was probably older than me. That said, this tin can surprised me, navigating Genoa’s notoriously steep roads with ease.

On my arrival at the novitiate, I was received warmly with a cup of coffee by the Novice Master and other novices from the second year. Coffee break over, I went up to my new room: simple but comfortable…and already with a personal touch! There I found a greeting card signed by all the second-year novices, a Maltese flag, a CD of Maltese hymns, books in English and Maltese, and an English translation of the Formula of the Society of Jesus – the spiritual horizon to which, with God’s grace, I’ll strain forwards for the rest of my life.

I felt at home.

Interview with Umberta Parodi, teacher of ancient Greek

19 Dec 2020

Once a week we have a lesson in ancient Greek. For more than 10 years Professor Umberta Parodi has been teaching novices and thus has the opportunity to get to know the new generations of Jesuits. Here is an interview to get to know her better.

It is not only in the novitiate that you have met the Society of Jesus, but you have been influenced by meeting various Jesuits in your life. Can you tell us a little about how they have left an impact on you?
The first Jesuit I met was Fr Giuseppe Carena, who was in charge of the so-called ‘mass of the poor’ at San Marcellino. I was a volunteer there from 1970 onwards and met Alberto Remondini, who later joined the Society. Together we ran an after-school centre for children in the old town, which over time became a social service cooperative, the Cesto.
Fr Maurizio Costa, rector of the Arecco Institute, was my husband’s and my spiritual director, and prepared us for marriage. He also followed us afterwards. Then there is Fr Biagio Spessa, who was a very good friend of my husband, and was very close to our family. He was a teacher at Arecco, very intelligent, but also very humble.

Is there one thing that characterises the novices you have met over the years?
The attitude of searching is common to all those I have met. They have come here in search of the right path, and they have been left free to leave if their path was elsewhere. It is also good to see that space is left for their very different personalities.

In the lessons we not only learn the grammar and etymology of various words, but together we also read the Gospel passage for the following Sunday. What is your relationship with the Gospel and has it changed in any way over the years?
When I was a girl I read the Gospels with a Franciscan friar, so I have been reading the Gospel for many years. But it was only when I started teaching here in the novitiate that I began to delve deeper into the language, which allows me to discover remarkable spiritual horizons. In fact, I could do this for every Sunday, but I only do it when I prepare my lessons, because the journey of faith is a journey of community. That is what I have discovered here. So I hope every year that the novice master will confirm me for the following year.

Can you share with us a desolation you have received recently?
A daughter of a friend recently died of cancer at only 40 years of age, but she had not shared with her family the fact that she was ill, and this was a great sorrow.

Can you share with us a consolation you have received in this recent time?
That there is room for encounter with others and with God when we put ourselves in an attitude of welcome.

2020-12-19

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