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Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
Vocation stories

Ronny Alessio SJ

It’s a short step from engineer to priest

It was a woman religious who referred me to a Jesuit for the experience of spiritual direction. A time of discernment, an important adjustment in many aspects of my life.

Ronny Alessio, Jesuit

I opened the door little by little. The first time was when I was about 9 years old, listening to the testimony of a young seminarian in our parish. I liked Jesus’ style, especially the way he established authentic relationships of friendship. Then ups and downs, chasing what I liked, until my vice-parish priest invited me to a service camp, when I was an animator of Catholic Action in my village, Romano D’Ezzellino, in the province of Vicenza.

In Barbiana – Mugello

I had just graduated from the Professional Institute, I was a turner and miller ready to enter the corporate world. There, in Barbiana, I began to read Don Lorenzo Milani’s letters. On those hills for the first time I thought and decided to pursue my studies in engineering to find tools to be helpful to me and to others.

Important stages

Three experiences helped me grow: my stay at the “Don Nicola Mazza” boarding school, where I expanded the boundaries of my world, meeting young people from Brazil, Georgia and Africa, engaged in different studies; a work for adolescent girls from difficult families. The Elizabethan sisters worked there, the same ones who ran the kindergarten I attended as a child, and to whom I owe a lot. It was there that the dream sketched out at the time of Barbiana began to take shape: to make the Gospel a reality in daily life. It was an Elizabethan sister who directed me to a Jesuit, Fr. Luigi Saggin, to experience spiritual direction. It was a time of discernment, an important adjustment in many aspects of my life.

Understanding one’s path

I wanted to understand if becoming a priest was my vocation. I left Padua to start working in Lonigo continuing my spiritual direction with Fr. Tata. I met people capable of true and unconditional friendship. One day when I went to the Youth Center in Padua for the umpteenth time, I found a photocopy of a letter from Fr. Arrupe in front of the Center’s chapel. Fr. General was harshly questioning the Society, its way of proceeding, words that gave me deep consolation.

Entrustment begins

On that November 17, 2002, when I entered the novitiate, I experienced the longest journey of my life. My mom and brother would stop at every gas station to see if I would change my mind. On that trip, I tried to be confident, to go out far, to try to question my patterns. That’s why I was stunned when, in Spain in Madrid, while I was finishing my Theology studies, the Provincial asked me to follow a project in Padua, completing a License in Liturgy, and then being sent to Albania.

Those two years were really special, studies were my resource for the first time! I met new people and disciplines, I begin to feel a renewed outlook on the world. It also changed my previous experience of entrustment, becoming less conditioned. I was supposed to arrive in Albania 2014 and then be the School Director around 2017, but in 2014 itself, I begin my service as Director without knowing the language and without ever having worked in a school office. In 2019 the request from the Provincial to follow the development of the Apostolic Plan. The surprises continue from day to day, the more so in this time. I have learned to acknowledge the difference between my plans and His plans, to be patient and wait.

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