Encountering Enzo Piccinini

The testimony of people for whom, even after his death and thousands of miles from Italy, Enzo became a friend.

May 26th marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Servant of God Enzo Piccinini. Piccinini was an Italian surgeon and member of Communion and Liberation who tragically passed away in a car accident on his way home from a dinner with friends following a panel discussion on health care which he had organized. Two years ago a group of friends from across the United States prepared an exhibit on his life – and his contribution to their lives – for the New York Encounter. Here are their experiences of “meeting” Piccinini that were shared in the exhibit:

“I was introduced to Enzo by my friend Meghan through a video of a witness he gave to the CLU. When I finished the video, I found myself uncomfortable and even a little angry. I wondered why a man who spent so little time with his family was being called a ‘saint.’ My husband had just started a new job where he would frequently have to travel…and the idea of him being gone seemed only like something negative for my life. Meeting Enzo helped clarify what I was experiencing and led me on a path towards something new. Enzo is helping me to see that unity with my family is not measured in the time we spend together, but in the way we spend our time whole-heartedly, even when we are apart. It’s hard to explain, but I know that Christ, through Enzo, is helping me to embrace my husband’s absences as something positive. This is only possible, as Enzo encouraged his own family, ‘to never go alone.’”
-Emma, homemaker, Cincinnati, OH

“In my mind, I thought I had to be careful not to choose a specialty that demanded ‘too much’ from me. I had been told the most important thing was to achieve a good ‘work-life balance.’ But then I met Enzo, who threw the idea of ‘work-life balance’ out the window and instead lived everything intensely. And he was happy! Looking at the witness of Enzo’s life, I see the promise of what my heart desires. The decision surrounding my career no longer feels like a burden, but rather a great possibility for my life.”
-Caroline, medical student, Gainesville, FL

“As a robotics-focused graduate student who met Enzo recently through some friends, I am so impressed by Enzo’s life that, as I learn more about him, it leaves an impression on my own life. I am impressed by Enzo’s never-ending desire for great unity within his life, and by his relationship with offering and risk. This man whom I never knew when he was alive has shown me a desire for a fuller life.
-Luke, graduate student, Gainesville, FL

“Though I was impressed and moved by Enzo’s witness the first time I saw it on YouTube, nothing is automatic in life. Months after that first experience with Enzo…I was at the point of considering leaving the CL movement when I was asked to help with this exhibit. When I began this work, I found my freedom engaged. I found myself annoyed and even wounded at some of the things I read in Enzo’s biography because they reminded me of friends that I had [negative] histories with. But I discovered that it is possible to ‘risk if you are loved.’ I found myself wanting to engage with reality again because Someone was holding me by my sleeves to make me look at my life. In short, I was unafraid to look at my wounds. In this sense, Enzo is a companion on my journey.
-Nick, Pensacola, FL

“When I first learned about Enzo, I reduced him to a caricature, or a saint in stained glass. When I was first invited to work on this exhibit, I initially declined. I was involved in too many things, and my wife and I just had a baby. But in front of the circumstances of my life, I also felt a looming insecurity. I had the feeling like I had to be some great man who, in the end, is just a cynic who doesn’t risk anything. But since beginning the work for this exhibit, Enzo has shown me that life is not a thing to be balanced. Instead I can follow a proposal that posits that everything put in front of me is an opportunity to be aware of my great need. And life becomes much more dramatic and more beautiful because of this.”
-Patrick, teacher, Chicago, IL

Enzo has begun to accompany me in similar ways as my living friends. I ruminate on his questions, judgments, and wisdom, and I put them in dialogue with my own circumstances. This is particularly striking for me with Enzo’s life, as our natural dispositions are very different. But out of a desire to become more truly myself – not a desire to negate my own personality – I have begun to follow him, asking that his life might echo in my own flesh.”
-Jessica, medical student, Pensacola, FL

Enzo really found me, rather than the other way around. After several run-ins with him over the past 15 years, Enzo remained a figure on the periphery for me. When work began on this exhibit, I thought it would be nice for more people to know about this man whom we can see as an ‘inspiring figure.’ Instead I discovered that this was not about the life of one man, but about something happening to myself and my friends now. Seeing this for myself, that someone who has died can continue to be such a help to us today, has made me less afraid of reality because I understand better what we mean when we talk about the possibility of life after death.”
- Meghan , homemaker, Nashville, TN