A naive dreamer… that’ s what every child is when he imagines his future. And I was one, when I projected myself into adventure in the world or as a missionary in Africa. All this contrasted with a reserved character and a small world, that of Sardinia, the island where I was born and to which I am attached. I experienced the conventional path for that time: school, catechism, sacraments, together, however, with a desire for authenticity and depth of relationships. And so, growing up, I went from “dreamer” to “lawyer of the lost causes”, so called with affection, as I was told that the sensitivity towards the last ones and the sense of justice that I cultivated, were beautiful values but not achievable in the concrete reality.
Studies and service experiences
I studied Law, more as a fallback than as a passion and, in the meantime, I met groups connected to the Jesuits, with whom I began a journey of human and faith growth. There, I found space to share and live out my desire for deeper friendships, to update my traditional and formal faith, realizing that the Gospel was also relevant to my life, and to have experiences of service in realities that were still unknown to me at the time. I am thinking of the Centro Astalli in Rome, serving refugees from Ethiopia: it was possible to experience “beyond the borders” that I had always dreamed of! During one of those years, during one of these experiences, I met two novices, a species unknown to me, who opened up a world to me, because I realized the possibility of other paths in life, besides marriage.
Between quest and restlessness
I then embarked on a quest, which lasted almost ten years, in which I continued to experience an ever-growing commitment to the CLC community, to which I belonged. I experienced the Spiritual Exercises every year. I had a spiritual director. I was in charge of a youth group. In the last years I was preparing to become an Exercises director. I experienced that all this was “life for me”, what I had always sought. But in my daily life, I experienced also a restlessness that was sometimes distressing, because I couldn’t find a work prospect that would give me peace, that would allow me to experience those values that I held dear and in that radical way that I desired. I couldn’t make up my mind and I was looking for compromise solutions, since it seemed reasonable to me to make use of the legal studies I had completed and which had cost me a great deal of effort.
Encounter with the Word and admission to the novitiate
But while I was preparing for public competitions and for the Judiciary exam, at a time that had become more serene, the Lord came with his word, during a school camp for young people: “Do not be afraid, I will be with you, you belong to me” (cf. Is 43:1-6). In a few minutes I had an understanding of what I had experienced in the previous years and I never again doubted that it was so. It was a calling to follow him and the choice of the specific path could only go to the Jesuits and their spirituality, which had become mine as well.
I entered the novitiate in 1994, with the joy of having finally found the fulfillment of my childhood dream and the way to spend my life closer to the least.
After the years of formation, the gift of the mission in Albania, the fulfillment of a desire that had remote roots. God’s timing… and the path necessary to get there. God’s timing… and the path to get there The eight years in Albania were a continuous discovery; a challenge with a difficult language and a new culture to deal with; an immersion in a humanity that fascinated me and made me say that I had finally found that dimension of life that I had always been looking for. Then, the request to leave everything and offer a very delicate and important service to the Society as novice master. There was no lack of fatigue in leaving everything behind, even though I was grateful to have experienced the fulfillment of a desire and an experience that really matured me as a man and in my understanding of the priesthood.
This is how the Lord works, always presenting new challenges. And this is our charism, that is to be available to go where there is the greatest need. In this vocation to become a pilgrim, today I can rediscover my roots and my desires for the future.