I was raised in the country and I loved to spend time taking care of animals; but every time I dreamt about my future, there was a voice within me saying “no, not animals but people, you’ll take care of people.”
I remember being struck at around age 12 by the story of a woman who was begging with her little child along the street; I suddenly felt the call to dedicate my life to help the ones in need. In my mind I pictured myself working as a doctor in Africa (although I didn’t think that I had what it takes to become a doctor), or in another poor land of the world.
Up to that point I never thought about any particular state of life; I never considered becoming a nun, neither was the idea of having a family attractive to me. I wanted to be free to give my life completely to the service of others and I felt that having a family would have limited my time to spend with the needy.
I had another desire that was maybe even stronger: discovering the meaning of life. One of my professors back in High School always challenged us to question the reason of our living. I can still recall my joy when one morning he gave me the answer that I was so eagerly waiting for: God is the meaning of our life! I always believed in God, but it was only then that things clicked in my head and I realized that He was the one who gave meaning to everything.
After HS I started studying Medicine. (In Italy you start Med school right after you graduate from High School. After 6 years of studying you get your basic degree which needs to be completed with 3 or 4 years of Grad school in any of the specialization.) It was at the end of that first year that something happened in my life.
I was praying in the Chapel on campus when a sister approached me and started talking to me about the importance of prayer as the “breath of the soul.” I quickly realized that my lungs were running out of breath, because during the past few months I neglected prayer due to my being over concerned for my studies. I took those words seriously and started to pray with more perseverance. I also went to visit her in the place where she lived and there I met her whole community, the Apostles of the Interior Life, for the first time.
The reason why her community was newly founded was to help people to rediscover the importance of their interior life. After I talked to the founder of their community, I became even more aware that God was calling me to be holy. My prayer life increased as days went by and I had the feeling of being a sponge soaking in Grace filled water. God was attracting me more strongly, giving me a lot of joy and peace. It was during those months that within me I felt a growing desire to consecrate my life completely to God, because I realized that God is everything. After further discernment I decided that I was going to live the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the religious life.
Still I didn’t know where I was going to live out my vocation. There was a growing desire in me to help people more on a spiritual level than on a physical or material one. Along with that I realized that studying Medicine was not the best path for me. I decided to switch my major to Theology, but in order to do that I had to have a previous background in Philosophy. So I enrolled in one of the Pontifical Universities, with still no idea about which Community I was going to join. It was at that point that my mind went back to think about the encounter that I had months before with one of the Apostles of the Interior Life. I started to spend more time with them and I soon realized that their Charism was a perfect answer to the desire that I felt growing within.
My friends and my family know that I am a shy and reserved person; the kind of apostolate that my community does is pretty outgoing. Sometimes I wonder why God has called me to this type of life, knowing my being timid and quiet. Still now, after many years of community life, my heart beats really fast when I have to talk in front of a group of people. But since the very beginning I’ve been telling myself that I couldn’t wait to be a saint to start doing apostolate! If God called me to this kind of ministry He also gave me the tools that I needed to carry it on. I actually experienced many times the truth of Jesus’ words, “Do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of the Father speaking through you.” (Mt 10: 19-20) This is the story of my vocation, a story that I really love, because it’s God’s story for my life.