Fr. Luigi Giussani

In the Heart of the Church

“Fr. Giussani has been for me the door by which I suddenly find myself in the very heart of the Church; a heart which is alive and is giving life.” A witness from Fr. Michael in Indiana.

My name is Fr. Michael and I am a Diocesan priest for the Diocese of Lafayette, IN. I first encountered Fr. Giussani by means of other men studying for the priesthood. These men, also studying for Lafayette Diocese, attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, where they took classes with Fr. Pietro Rossotti. I recall an occasion at a retreat for the seminarians of Lafayette that these men, whom I admired immensely and upon whom I looked as older brothers, spoke excitedly about the insights of this “Luigi Giussani”. I wondered to myself, “Who is this man who is able to impact so deeply these brothers to whom I look up?”

I encountered the Movement for myself six years ago, in 2016, a short time after I had first heard the name of “Luigi Giussani”. On that autumn day, I was walking through the halls of my seminary in Chicago, Mundelein Seminary, when I heard two other students speak the name “Giussani”. I stopped in my tracks, approached them, and asked them about this man. At first surprised, the two soon invited me to join their School of Community the following week.

The sensation I remember from that first School of Community was a great excitement: I found something about my life being explained to me, locking into place. I felt a satisfaction in the esteem Fr. Giussani had for my human experience –
that it is evidence of God. No one had ever treated the words of “faith” and “Mystery” and “Church” with such meaning, with such dignity!

After that initial School of Community, I returned week after week to encounter this man again and again. I felt awe and wonder in front of his words, his perspective on life, and his affection for his humanity and mine. Fr. Giussani gave me the words to describe my experiences of God and also brought me to encounter the exceptionality of Jesus, to recognize Him alive and present in my life. Because of the way he helped me to look at everything, I began to live my life as an adventure: the Mystery could become present to me at any moment, through any circumstance, within any experience!

I continued attending School of Community at my seminary, and in the summer of 2018, while on summer break from classes, I discovered a School of Community in Indianapolis and began attending weekly with them between semesters. There, I encountered the same seriousness about life and about the needs of the heart which I had found in the School of Community in the seminary.

At some point during these years, I became aware of the Fraternity of Communion & Liberation. The question of the Fraternity was explained to me as the discernment of a charism. I was always hesitant to consider the question, as I was uncertain whether I would be able to commit to this life in addition to living my vocation as a Diocesan priest, but I decided to revisit the question after being ordained.

I was ordained a priest in August, 2020. As a priest, I have continued School of Community in Indianapolis, when able. Slowly, I began to ask about the charism: “What is the charism? How would I discern whether this charism corresponded to me or not?” The charism, I was told, would help me to live the life of the Church and to live my vocation more fully. The question to answer was, after all, a simple one: Does the perspective of Fr. Giussani – his gaze, his voice, his urgency – help me to live my life as a man, as a Christian, and as a priest, as an encounter with Christ?

In recent weeks, God has made the answer to this question abundantly clear in my life: Yes. By means of the Movement, God has directly answered questions which I have carried within my heart. Now, I find that the judgments of Fr. Giussani and of Fr. Carrón have become my judgments upon reality, too; that the desires and questions with which they approach life have become mine as well. One day, I found myself thinking about the way Fr. Giussani explained the Christian life and said to myself, “But of course, that is simply the teaching of the Church.” And in this moment, I was given to realize that this is precisely the defining characteristic of a charism: that it makes the Church to be an incarnate, tangible reality for someone; that I understand the Church through his understanding of the Church.

Fr. Giussani has been for me the door by which I suddenly find myself in the very heart of the Church; a heart which is alive and is giving life. It is in Fr. Giussani that I experience the truth of St. Paul’s words, “For though you have countless teachers in Christ, you do not have many fathers” (1 Cor. 4:15). Fr. Giussani has generated in me an affection for Christ, an affection for my humanity, and an affection for the companionship which is His body, the Church.

I do not know what the days or years ahead will hold for me; I do not know how often I will be able to participate in the gestures of the Movement; and I do not know my capacity to always remember this awareness which God has cultivated in me. However, I do know that I do not wish to live my life – as a man, as a Christian, and as a priest – without this man, without this companionship, without this charism. Fr. Giussani has restored gladness to my life; he has generated within me an affection for Christ Jesus, who is alive and present in the Church.

Fr. Michael, Nobelsville, IN