My name is Francesca Di Leone I was born in Saracena (CS) in Italy
On January 30,1987. I graduated in 2011 from the University of Urbino with a degree in clinical psychology.
I met the Apostles for the first time in my freshman year of college in Urbino (Spring 2008) . They came for a week each month to work with the campus ministry. One evening while I was eating alone in the cafeteria, Tiziana came and sat at my table. We started talking and from that moment I started spiritual direction with her.
My personality is very warm and sweet. I really enjoy being with people, listening to their stories, and making them feel welcomed . I love nature and long hikes in the mountains, and have been a part of a scouting group in my hometown since I was a little girl. I love the thrill of adventure when you set out with a backpack to spend a few days immersed in nature and to admire the whole of creation . My other great passion is music , and for many years I played the saxophone in my town band.
My vocation story : My years at college were beautiful and enriching. I grew a lot, both humanly and spiritually. It was my first time away from home, which allowed me to organize my life as I wanted, study what I had always wanted, and live on my own. I lived in a dorm where I made lots of friends: we hung out, organized parties, and did everything together. It seemed that I had everything that I could ever want.I had big plans for my future. I wanted to build a career by becoming a psychologist and having a family with three children. But I was very far from God.
As a child I had gone to church and even been involved in youth group. But during high school, I drifted from God. I didn’t really pray and didn’t go to Sunday mass often. Due to some health problems I had formed a distorted idea of God. I asked myself, “if God really existed, why would He allow such suffering? God doesn’t hear my prayers… it makes no sense to pray.”
My rebellion against God and all my projects were transformed with one encounter…
One evening during my freshman year of college I was in the cafeteria. I was eating alone at my table until a sister named Tiziana came and sat down next to me. She began to talk to me about God, about how He loves us, takes care of us, and never abandons us, even in suffering. I was very struck by her words. So much so that soon after I started spiritual direction with her. Through spiritual direction, I understood the importance of daily meditation, how God speaks to us every day through the gospel, and how God has a plan for each of us. From simple daily meditation my prayer life gradually grew. I started going to Mass every day. It was beautiful meeting Jesus in the Eucharist daily, as well as in my daily hour of adoration and the rosary. Slowly I saw how prayer was becoming the center of my day. My desire to pray and be with Jesus grew more and more. Every day I wanted to be filled with His grace.
Gradually I was being transformed. Even my desires and intentions for the future had changed.
What I wanted was to follow Jesus every day. I thought that I could do this through marriage, but when I thought about religious life I would experience a deep peace and joy in my heart. Over time I realized how God hears and fulfills our deepest desires—perhaps in a different way from what we expected. My desire as a teenager was to become a psychologist so that I could care for people through one-on-one conversations, listening to their stories and their interior lives. This desire continues to this day, which I see fully realized in consecrated life and specifically in following the charism of the Apostles of the Interior Life, giving of myself in spiritual direction.
I was very surprised by the fact that these nuns didn’t wear a habit or a veil. They were dressed like me: colorful and trendy (in modern styletoo!!!) When I went to Rome I also saw that they didn’t live in a convent, but in a simple apartment. It was the first time I had met any sisters like that! One thing that struck me immediately was the joy and the light they had. Before meeting them I had thought that sisters were generally sad and gloomy – but I’ve never seen the Apostles that way! Instead, I have always noticed a great richness and inner joy.