WHEN A TESTIMONY OPENS YOU UP TO THE WORD
Between friendships and speculation, meetings and reflections, the road to take to fully experience the search for meaning that has always animated my life.
My story begins 25 years ago in Pescara, the city where I spent my childhood and adolescence and of which I am very fond. I was born into a wonderful family and I have an older brother to whom I am very attached. Since childhood the interests that have monopolized my attention were sport and study, as a friend of mine said: “a perfect cross between Usain Bolt and Thomas Aquinas.”
I began to live my faith with a certain depth ever since I was a boy. My belief was nourished by the example of my parents’ life and the homilies of my parish priest. When I listened to them, a shiver would run down my body; in short, I was already a little disciple of Emmaus.
In those years I was part of a group of boys of the Catholic Action who used to meet in the oratory of my parish. The main ingredients were play and the re-reading of our life starting from some passage from the Gospel, an experience that helped me to think of the Lord as a friend.
In the years of lower middle school, very beautiful friendships were born that still last to this day. I also remember with joy the whole period of high school during which I attended the lyceum of my city that specialised in Classical studies and, even in this case, I was lucky enough to share this study journey with splendid companions. During this time I cultivated a strong interest in Greek and Latin literature and philosophy. Seneca was my favorite author and I devoured his opera omnia. It can be said that philosophy was my first love … and we know that the first love is never forgotten.
The desire to deepen the foundations of faith pushed me to study these subjects at university. I enrolled at the Catholic University, fascinated by the history of the neothomist movement and by the figure of Gustavo Bontadini, who had long taught metaphysics at the same university. In Milan I met a boy of my same age who was studying classical literature and who had decided to become a priest. With him I formed a deep friendship and his testimony helped me to reflect on my life path. What drove me towards a radical change was Jesus’ invitation to dedicate oneself to others. An invitation that clashed with my life, up to that moment entirely dedicated to personal gratifications.
I decided to turn to the Jesuits, about whom my high school professor of religion, a former student of the Pontifical Gregorian University, had spoken very highly. Helping me in the period of vocational verification was Father Beppe Lavelli of the community of Villapizzone in Milan. I began to attend on his advice “la Bussola” (“the Compass”), a group of young people who would meet to pray and re-read their lives starting from the word of God and with the help of the Ignatian method.
After graduating, I took part in the seven-day Ignatian spiritual exercises at the house of Villa San Giuseppe in Bologna. In those days of great peace and joy I felt confirmed in the desire to follow Jesus more closely.
I started the procedure to enter the Society and, after being admitted, I entered the novitiate hoping to really understand what it means to live in “the company of Jesus”.