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Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
Jesuits News Giuseppe and Andrea will be ordained priests

Giuseppe and Andrea will be ordained priests

Andrea Bonavita SJ e Giuseppe La Mela SJ, gesuiti

The celebration will take place on Saturday 13 April 2024 at 4 pm in the Church of St Ignatius of Loyola in Rome. Bishop Franco Beneduce SJ will preside.

Giuseppe La Mela

Giuseppe is 43 years of age and comes from the province of Catania.

“I remember my childhood as a time when God was always present in my life. My family always participated actively in the life of the parish and for me God was like a family friend. I was comfortable at home, but at the same time I felt within me a desire for something greater, a desire for freedom, for adventure”.

At the age of 18 he moved to Rome where he studied Communications at the Sapienza University. It was during this time that his passion for music and singing became increasingly important in his life, until he moved to London in search of success. “Those were years of great restlessness, and the desire for great things, for freedom and adventure, kept moving within me but I never seemed to find satisfaction. Meanwhile, God had remained the family’s friend, but perhaps never fully became my friend. I felt His presence as a threat (you must do this; you must not do that…) and only turned to Him when I really needed something. In short, for me He was a mixture between the genie in the lamp and the policeman”.

Giuseppe La Mela SJ, Jesuit

The encounter with the Society came about almost by chance, through the website, which offered the possibility of praying online in the Ignatian style. “It was a discovery that gave me a lot of enthusiasm: this way of praying directly involved my life and made me discover a face of God that I was not aware of. I decided to meet the Jesuits to learn more”.

After joining a CLC group and starting to volunteer with the homeless in London, Giuseppe decided to enter the novitiate in Genoa in 2014. His formation continued with the study of Philosophy in Rome, the wonderful Regency experience in Milan at the Leone XIII Institute, the study of Theology in Madrid and now the specialisation in Biblical Theology at the Gregorian University.

“When I joined the Society, I found out where this desire for great things, for freedom, for adventure, was driving me. Listening to Him and understanding Him made me realise that God was speaking to me through my desires. Ten years have passed, I have changed cities and communities, I have met many people with whom I have formed wonderful friendships, I have experienced moments of great consolation and others of difficulty and desolation. But one thing has always remained the same: I am at home.

Now that my priestly ordination is approaching, I experience different emotions. For 10 years I have been preparing and waiting for this day, and yet I feel a sense of dizziness when I think of the enormity of this gift. I feel accompanied and supported by my brothers, my family, the many people I have met over the years who have shown me through their lives, their friendship and their care what it means to be a priest. And what consoles me most is the knowledge that this gift, received without merit, can become a gift for others”.

Andrea Bonavita

Andrea, 48, who grew up in Como and Milan, experienced the call of the Lord during his youth in the lively context of the oratory of his village, but like the rich young man (Mk 10:17-22) he did not immediately decide to follow Him. “However, this encounter remained in my heart and, over the years, became a ‘restlessness’ at each important stage of my life: scientific maturity, music studies, architecture degree, work, research in the history of architecture…”.

The tragic loss of a friend in a car accident was an opportunity to stop and come to terms with the echo of God’s voice calling. “I felt that I could have satisfactions, but these would never be true happiness, which cannot be ‘manufactured’ but only received. And it was clear that happiness had something to do with that invitation from the Lord that I had never forgotten”. At the age of 35, he went through the experience of the month-long Spiritual Exercises, “an experience of profound but liberating, unifying, luminous struggle that urged me to want to help others experience the same face-to-face encounter with God”. After a period of accompaniment, he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in 2014.

Andrea Bonavita SJ, Jesuit

After taking his religious vows, he moved to Rome for two years to study philosophy at the Gregorian University and then to Palermo for the Regency experience: “I am deeply grateful for the two years I lived on the Gonzaga campus: for me they were a true gymnasium of the heart! I feel that I received more than I was able to give, being with this great community, especially the high school students: in the classes, during moments of sharing, during the volunteering activities, during the retreats (especially the Kairos!), with the Student Missionary League...”. The first cycle of theology was in Madrid, where he was ordained deacon, “three years of intense study, but also of beautiful collaboration in pastoral activities, rich in music and art”.

He is now back in Rome, where he is part of the formation team of the Philosophy section of San Saba, specialising in spiritual theology, also at the Gregorian University. “I can say that I have experienced God’s love and patience. And the Lord has had so much patience with me! I am preparing for priestly ordination, an undeserved gift, with serenity: grateful for all the good I have received from the Lord and from the Society, and with the desire to help others to recognise in their lives the God who is already waiting to give them fullness and true happiness”.

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