My vocation as a lay MSI was probably born when, at the age of fifteen, I walked a stretch of my journey together with Sister Maura Redaelli who managed to put in my heart the living Passion for the proclamation of the Kingdom of God to all peoples. This passion has led me down so many different paths, without being able to find my place for a long time.
After years, in meeting the Missionary sisters of the Immaculate again, I received welcome, availability, generosity but above all, I learned from them that before “doing” I had to “be” a missionary, before thinking of leaving I should have learned to change my look at humanity starting from my daily life.
With them, I felt at home. After that long period of searching and bewilderment, I felt so much peace, serenity, and I understood that the Lord wanted me right there. I did not know yet what my path would be like, but I trusted and entrusted.
In all these years of formation and coexistence with the MSI lay people and the sisters, I have embraced the Spirituality of the Missionary sisters of the Immaculate “Jesus, Apostle of the Father, Sower and Seed” which has helped me to live the Passion for the proclamation on a daily basis. Many times I feel like a sower living and bearing witness to my faith daily, without losing hope and trust that where I cannot reach, the Lord will take care. I feel like an apostle when I manifest my faith with words, even if with difficulty. Other times I feel like a seed when, after so much effort, disappointment and discouragement prevail because of a failure. The displeasure I feel, if offered to the Lord, I am sure will bear fruit, thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit.
Despite being an employee, I work closely with foreigners: my colleagues are from China and Senegal. For years I have been trying to convey to the Chinese a different way of relating, I try to love the other without having or looking for an ulterior motive. For them it was strange to see a colleague who helped everyone, in any activity, without ever asking for anything in return, in the most absolute disinterest. It was enough to reciprocate with a smile. Then it became a habit to be able to count on me for anything, even personal things. When they offer me gifts or money to repay their debt, I take courage and tell them that there is no need because it is Jesus who asked me for this, telling me “every time you have done these things to just one of these little brothers of mine, ‘you did to me’.
I conclude by thanking with all my heart the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate who, by sharing their charism with the laity, have also allowed me to live as a Missionary.
Thanks to Sr. Lorenza, I was able to discover the reality of the MSI lay people and in 2019, I started attending the community that met in Monza. I participated in the moments of formation and tried to bear witness in my daily life.
Looking back on the whole journey I have made, I can say that what fascinates me most about the charism of the Missionaries of the Immaculate is the apostolic life. I have tried to experience this dimension in my parish by visiting families. It was a very beautiful experience to be able to testify to my faith and proclaim the Gospel to those people who, even if very close to us, are far from following a path of faith. Creating relationships and getting closer to each of them was a simple and concrete way of living the missionary spirit.
The MSI lay group of North Italy was born in 1998 when the Missionary sisters of the Immaculate proposed to some people attentive to the mission to meet in Monza once a month to listen to the testimonies of sisters returning from the mission. In addition to this, also to receive formation on the Word of God in the Scripture and to acquire the knowledge of the founders of the Institute.
The following year I began to attend the group that met in Monza. The vocation of lay MSI matured slowly. I stayed only thanks to the constancy and stubbornness, which however, over time, allowed the vocation to bear fruit.
What fascinated me most about the charism of the Missionary sisters of the Immaculate was the determination in the foundresses to proclaim the Gospel, as women, capable of preparing themselves to acquire autonomy from others and security in the faith. Following their example, I attended biblical courses and spiritual retreats to know more and more that Christ who fascinated me, who died on the cross for me and then rose again. I asked the parish priest to be a catechist to speak to the children and then to the adolescents about Jesus Christ through the Holy Scriptures. At present, I am no longer a catechist, but at the oratory during summer, I read the stories to the first and second grade children, that the Fidei Donum have collected in a book, stories that come from countries around the world. On a world map, I show where other children are listening to the same tales.
I joined this community 13 years ago, at the suggestion of Matilde, whom I met during the missionary exhibition in my parish. Right from the first meeting, I found myself at ease and I understood that attendance could be the right step on the journey of faith. I thus had the opportunity to meet the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate who welcomed me with great familiarity. I felt as if I had always known them and the houses they occupy become ever more my home, where I really feel at home, praying and sharing cheerful moments of celebration. Furthermore, thanks to their testimonies, I have the opportunity to know the various realities of the missions in which the Sisters work. During this community journey, I had the gift of “putting out into the deep”, albeit for short periods: in 2017, I was in Guinea Bissau and in 2022 in Rossano (Calabria). In Guinea Bissau, I learned so much from the African people, who had a smile on the face, even in their poverty and indigence. I met many children, who were happy to go to school and secure the only meal of the day: a plate of rice. The second experience was instead last October with the community of sisters in Rossano. Here, although still in Italy, I found a very different reality from my daily life in Milan: Southern Italy with its colors and flavors, not just gastronomic. Pleasant to be in the midst of people who are always welcoming and never in a hurry. These experiences have broadened my narrow gaze towards a much broader horizon, thus increasing my journey of faith, making me feel part of an outgoing community and Church.
The mission entered my life predominantly during my adolescence, when my elder sister had decided to become a missionary among the Comboni Sisters. I knew the MSI thanks to Sr. Gianna Rosolin, a dear childhood friend and I had already been attending the Institute of Milan or Monza since 1975. I participated in the profession of several Sisters, the missionary mandate and giving of the Crucifix, several times at the Feast of Thanks giving until 1998. Coinciding with the death of my mother, I received the proposal from Sr. Silvia Serra to join a group of lay people united by a passion for the mission in the style of the MSI who had begun to gather and meet in their Congregation for about two months. I liked the proposal because I was in a particularly sad moment. I was 57 years old, I had quit my job to assist my elderly mother and… A future to reorganize. I was and still am involved in the missionary group in the parish. In the new MSI lay community, I found opportunities for formation, prayer, spirituality and I tried to become a missionary animator in the environment in which I live according to the spirit of MSI. In 2000, I had the opportunity to follow a project that my parish supports in Bangladesh. In 2003, by a happy coincidence, I took the opportunity to learn about the work of MSI’s in various communities in India. In 2011, I went to Guinea Bissau for a short time. In these 25 years, the journey has been characterized by entrustment, following, gratitude and joy. Life with these ingredients can go on.
Lay MsI – Milan