In the Company of Fr. Giussani

Irene and Nadia share their experience of taking a year to read the biography of Fr. Giussani with a group of friends.

When the biography of Fr. Giussani came out, I immediately bought it, but I knew that I wouldn't read it during the school year – I am a busy teacher – and I wouldn't read it during the summer – I need something less ponderous. I was afraid it would end up on the bookshelf forever. Then I had an idea: what if I read only 5 pages a day? I could do that, no matter how busy I was or if I wasn't in the mood for a big book. So I started and I rarely missed a day because I wanted to be faithful but most of all because every day I craved to spend 10-15 minutes in the company of Fr. Giussani. He shared his life with me. He spoke to me and guided me, offering a witness with his actions and sharing his experience. He explained the School of Community, he gave judgments on big events, talked to saints, and shared all this with me. I was living by his side for 10 minutes every day. When I finished the book, I decided that I had to help other people who were in the same frame of mind I was when I first saw the book. I wanted everyone to have the possibility to live that friendship with Fr. Giussani. So, on the day of the centenary, I launched an initiative in my community. We would read one chapter per week and meet every other week for a 30 minute zoom call to share about those two chapters. More than thirty people joined me. A few weeks ago, the six of us who stayed faithful to this reading journey reached the end of the book and we had the last zoom call. We were all full of gratitude for the enriching and fruitful journey we had. Every day over the last year we spent time with Fr. Giussani and experienced the effect of his companionship in a privileged way. This experience revived the charism in us as our friends Melissa and Paola witnessed during our meetings. It was a ten month gift of the Holy Spirit. One friend, Nadia, who walked this path with me shared:

“First, I want to thank you for sending out the zoom emails and keeping us on course to read this incredible book. I ordered this book a few years ago when I met the CL group in Maryland, because I wanted to learn more about the group and Fr Giussani. When the book arrived and I saw how thick it was, I thought I would save it to read when I am old and retired and I have the ‘time.’

I arrived here in Colorado Springs exactly one year ago, not knowing anyone. This move has been emotionally difficult for me, often leaving me feeling like I really miss my friends. I reached out to see if there was a CL group here but the closest one is Denver. I somehow ended up on the email list and received the email invitation to read this book. I am always amazed how God can work in our lives. What a beautiful surprise to see you on the zoom. It's funny to think that had I not been lonely or moved here or so many other things....the book would still be sitting on my shelf unread and I would have missed out on the chance to grow in my spiritual life this last year. I would have missed out on knowing about the beautiful life of Fr. Giussani.

This experience taught me so much. To begin with, I learned the right perspective to have when approaching a book of over 1000 pages....take my a few chapters a week or month...give myself a year to complete it. Wow, that makes a lot of sense, but I think I have to do everything now and fast. Every time I found myself lonely, I would pick up the book and read and right away I was reminded of the presence of Christ. I took notes and wrote down the things that spoke to me. Through the readings I felt like I was getting to know who Fr Giussani was and for sure, his love and passion for our Lord and how he experienced this.

I really can't believe that it was a year ago we began to read this book. It has opened my heart and mind in ways I did not expect and reminded me of the power of prayer. Through the zoom meetings I was also reminded that I am not alone and there is truly so much love and goodness in the world.

Thank you for this experience, for this encounter to learn and think about Fr. Giussani, his faith and love for God.”

Irene, North Bethesda, Maryland