Renato Colizzi SJ
My vocation, between medicine and the care of souls
At 17, a crisis of faith and a period of research and “exile”. 7 years later, as a medical student, I came back, with the help of the University Chapel Jesuits.
The path that led me to the Society has been long and marked by sometimes difficult and unexpected turns. My first memories take me to the cities my family lived in, to follow my father in his work. With my two younger sisters, first we went to Pisa, then to London and finally to Rome, where I grew up from the age of ten. This period of itinerancy has remained within me and, still today, I experience that this love for distances and for “the different” continues to characterize my life as a Jesuit.
Scouting, exile and search
During my teenage years, I got to know parish and neighborhood life, and among the activities that most marked and taught me was scouting. At the age of seventeen, I experienced a crisis of faith, that opened a long and difficult period of searching and “exile”. Only seven years later, at the age of twenty-three, during my studies in medicine, I got closer to the Lord and his Church, not without the help and accompaniment of the Jesuits of the University Chapel. After finishing my studies and after a profound experience of catechesis with the Franciscans of San Lorenzo al Verano, I asked the Jesuits to accompany me in my vocational discernment. This journey led me, first, to Villa San Giuseppe and, finally, to the novitiate.
Entering the Society. In Africa, the vocation to priesthood
It was with deep joy that I began my life as a religious in the Society, at the age of twenty-eight. After my novitiate, which, for me, was a serene period of growth and deepening of my vocation, I began studying philosophy, while serving with the Antonianum Youth Center’s “Doctors for Bosnia” group. In this way, I was able to approach the call to the mission, that led me to leave for Chad for Regency. In Africa, I worked for two years as a doctor, and among the sick and the great poverty I encountered, my vocation to priesthood was born. Just when I became aware that human strength could do no more, I began to abandon myself to the sweetness and strength of the Lord, who never abandons his poor. In the hospital, in assisting those bodies affected by the suffering and humiliation of illness, my understanding and love for the Eucharist, the mystery of the dead and risen body of Jesus, the Servant, deepened.
The study and the strength of fraternal life
After returning from Chad, I began my Theology studies at the Centre Sèvres, in Paris. The experience of the studies meant, for me, to enter into a dimension of self-denial and renunciation of that direct service to the poor. Providentially, in the insertion community, at Saint Denis, I was able to experience a simple and fraternal way of life, that allowed me to keep in touch with the people and the migrant communities. It is their faith that has allowed me to overcome, with joy, the inevitable dryness of my years of Theology. Now, after serving at MAGIS, as Socius of the Provincial I try to share the beauty and depth of the Society’s Mission, however much this beauty may sometimes be disfigured by our limitations, our fears and our selfishness.