|01-03-2011 - Traces, n. 3
A HOPE THAT WILL
BY CHIARA TANZI
It's a Friday afternoon in Kensington, Maryland, and a group of middle school students have gathered at Holy Redeemer Parish, as they do every week. They pray together, and one of the adults, Fr. Roberto Amoruso, reminds them of their "rule": "Jesus is giving you something great right now. If you see it, tell someone and, if you don't, say the Memorare so that you can see." After a few years of friendship that keeps this rule in mind, their method has borne fruit. From the total distraction typical of pre-adolescents, they've woken up, to see that being in class or helping at home is actually an invitation to more. From not remembering what happened the day before, they now speak with a precision that betrays the influence of Fr. Roberto's own contagious enthusiasm for the present moment. And so, "on Monday, this happened…" and "on Thursday, I saw that…" Life's ordinary moments become invaluable signs of "something great." Fr. Roberto is a priest of the Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo (FSCB), one of twelve priests now present in the United States. Spread between Washington, DC, Boston, and Denver, they work in parishes and teach various subjects. In America, the would-be land of hope and opportunity, they come to bring a hope that will never falter, with no other strategy than willingness to share the love of Christ. After all, it's a love that so impassioned them that they left their homes (in four countries) to tell the world about Him.
SOMETHING AWAITED. Fr. Michael's reality, since 2009, is his life as the pastor of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Broomfield, Colorado, while two of his confreres serve in the parish and also as teachers and chaplains at local Catholic schools. It is a young and lively place, with over 3,000 families registered and a few new parishioners each week. Their biggest problem has become space: the 1,000-seat church can no longer accommodate all the people at Mass. Beyond gratitude for this abundance, he appreciates the eager response to everything that the new priests propose, but he's quick to insist that this enthusiasm is not due to themselves: "We are just a few normal men, but we bring something deeply awaited by the human soul. There is a hunger in people for things that speak of the truth, a hunger for hope." Fr. Accursio Ciaccio is teaching religion to 160 middle school students in the parochial school, a highly unusual position for a priest. However, the priests had noticed a great need in this age group to have the faith proposed to them, and so moved quickly to respond.
PRICELESS. The brief history of these priests in the United States testifies that openness to the plan of Another was not merely an entrance hurdle, but defines their whole life. Fr. Michael explained that becoming part of a missionary society in the Church means being available to go wherever one is sent, because, through the circumstances and the Superior, it's Christ Himself who does the sending. Far from an oppressive obedience, "being sent by Christ gives you a great freedom and a great certainty." His words seem contradictory, but maybe they make sense after all, if you recall Fr. Roberto's middle school students. They learned that happiness is possible now, because the reality before you is given by Christ Himself for you to see something great. Fr. Gabriele Azzalin, recently arrived in Denver, perhaps said it most simply in a letter to Fr. Camisaca: "What's priceless is being happy in the place where you are." In the USA, the FSCB have found a people with a lot of positive energy, and a desire to hope. The priests' witness to Christ points to a purpose for such energy and "a hope that does not disappoint." Fr. Antonio, FSCB North American regional delegate, notes that their proposal breaks open the American religious tendency to "fall prey to a self-determining freedom that thinks it is able to choose whether, how, and where to relate to God."