A cordial greeting.
Carlos Verga has asked me to write; even though we personally don’t know each other, we have common sentiments and passion for the Kingdom.
I’m 77 years old and this year I’m celebrating my fiftiest anniversay as a priest. For the greater part of my life, I have lived with and for young people. Along with my Claretian brother, who is named Roberto and with other young people and not just them, we have set in motion an Association which we have given the name Via Gaggio community in the city of Lecco, which is in Northern Italy. In many ways we have accompanied in various ways young people with problems of addictions, and in the last 16 years with teenagers who come from a migratory flow.
We have a house which we have named “the well.” About 100 teenagers arrive from lunchtime until the afternoon with which we construct a personal project and develop specific goals. These young people come from thirty different countries, and about half are Muslims, of between 14 and 22 years old. With them, in addition to the educators, there are about forty volunteers living there. We all face some real questions: if we do not look after them, what will happen to their lives and the life of this situation? We ask them, on the basis of the experience of the volunteers who have made themself available, that a part of their life (thirty hours in a year) be devote to others. This week we lived the farewell of a person who has been vital for us: a man who was 64 years old, our architect; has died after almost five years in suffering an illness generated by ELA (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). When the doctors diagnosed the disease and he came to tell me. He said: What does God want of me now? I do not know, I replied. But it is essential for you and for everyone that we address the situation with fortitude. It was November 2011.
In 2013, he wrote with his brother, a journalist, a book entitled Luce (light) where he tells the dramatic situation of the terminally ill in addition to the human and spiritual journey which moves from despair to joy. The following year, again with his brother, he wrote a short story with the title L’ultima bolla (the last bubble), the history of a dolphin cared for in captivity and a girl. It focuses on the friendship of both and the visionary project that they share: those detained in the flow of a shipwrecked on the barges and massacre of migrants in the waters of the Mediterranean.
As he wrote the last lines of the book Luce (Light): I am not afraid of dying, I am at peace because of the love of those around me, as in that of those that I have encountered along the way. I have seen the love of God. I have felt his anticipated embrace. At the same moment in which everything is shutting down, I know that there will be another light in which I may take refuge.
I greet with affection,
Claretian Missionary in Lecco
Lecco, October 31, 2016