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.