Fr. Pigi Bernareggi

My "beginning" with Bernareggi

Dino Quartana, a Dominican in Paris, recounts his meeting with the recently deceased missionary, and Fr. Giussani’s arrival at the Berchet. "It was a mysterious friendship. What he is living now is what he was already living before."

We almost always sat next to each other, from sixth grade to our high school graduation. We lived near to each other and when I had family problems I would often go to spend time with him. He had a nice, rich house with a nice ping pong table. The first thing that struck me, in a certainly decisive form, was something that happened during class. It was science class and there was a big racket, everyone was talking and the angry teacher was picking on him (I think she even gave him detention). But Pigi was the only one not talking! Why did he not say so? Why did he not defend himself? Where was his freedom coming from? To this day this episode remains in my mind and heart.

We were together in the famous "prima E" class where Fr. Giussani gave his first lesson. He (who had an iron memory) wrote a detailed account of that first class; I only have a vague memory of it. Before Pigi, I became very interested in Fr. Giuss and began to frequent him; one day, I invited Pigi to a meeting. Hence the legend (written by him) that I got him involved with GS.

Then I drifted away for several years, joining social-liberal-refractory groups. I began studying architecture, I must have been in my first or second year. One day I meet Pigi who asked me what I was thinking of doing for the vacation... "Nothing special". He suggested spending the week with GS in Madonna di Campiglio. If there is anything I can call an "event", an "encounter", it was that week. There I met a life, a life that attracted me. More than Fr. Giuss' words, it was the togetherness of the whole of life: prayer, walks with Fr. Vanni, evening performances. When I am asked today how my vocation was born, I think of that week. From that moment, my life in GS began. A big change was giving up ski racing on the weekends to go to Bassa (Pigi was also a great skier, we had a great race together on the Brenta). I still dream about skiing all the time, which was the best thing about my teenage years.

Dino Quartana

One fine day, our Pigi asked me: "What do you want to do with your life?" " do I know?” "Try coming to the meetings we have with Fr. Giuss in the evening, meetings called ‘verification’. Very secret!” I found myself with so many people... Priests, friars, nuns, fathers and mothers of families and many more. Then came my meeting with Fr. Cocagnac during an evening of Bible songs. Cocagnac was director of the important magazine Art sacré, on the renewal of the relationship between the Church and modern art in France.

Read also - Pigi Bernareggi: Carrón's message

Thus, one day in November 1962, I left for France to begin all my Dominican studies, with much sorrow at leaving my friends and with much recklessness. Since then I spoke to Pigi very little, although we felt deeply united, even though I always thought that his life was infinitely more serious, more evangelical, more pure, and more holy than mine. In 2008, I had the gift of spending a few days with him at our great friend Ivo Bonapace's place in Pinzolo, at the annual meeting of the Brazilian friends of the association "Don Virgilio Resi" – Fr. Romano Scalfi, of the Italian bishops in Brazil, was there, as well as many other friends. We were together but we talked very little, except for a beautiful evening of testimonies. Pigi and I spoke very little, we did not write to each other, but I knew what he was doing and he knew what I was doing. A mysterious friendship.
I can hardly be sad because I feel that what he is experiencing now is what he was already experiencing before.

Dino Quartana, Paris, France