During the testimonies of Hans Van Mourik Broekman and Fr. Michael Carvill

"A life lived to the full": happening now in Dublin

In Dublin, the CL community commemorated the centenary of Giussani's birth with a series of testimonies from speakers across the world on who Fr. Giussani is for them, and how his charism is still relevant today.
Silvia Baldazzi

"I just finished watching the recording of Hans Van Mourik Broekman's talk, and I found it very inspiring. I have so many notes! I wish every school would share its testimony with their teachers as an encouragement." Brian, who just met us, surprised me thus a few days ago after watching the recording of the first meeting we organized last October in Dublin to celebrate the centenary of Fr. Giussani's birth. Or Regina, a friend of Elisa, who had invited her for the first time, who confides that those two meetings gave her the strength to go on with her work that had become extremely difficult.

What happened? And how did it come about? At the end of 2021, I changed jobs and started working in an American multinational company with its European headquarters in Dublin, working in a global team, composed of people scattered across America, Israel and of course Dublin. It was like being catapulted into the world, and the initial fatigue was immediately accompanied by a strong and unexpected "yearning” for those people of (almost) every race and country who participated in the video work calls so that they could meet Christ, the One who filled my life with meaning and gusto. It was a yearning that was combined with an immense gratitude for Fr. Giussani and the movement that had been their channel for meeting Him. So I proposed the gesture to the community and a dozen friends made it possible to organize two meetings entitled "A life lived to the full" one in early October and one in mid-November in the chapel of the University where Chiara, a dear friend of the movement, teaches.

The common thread of the two meetings wanted to have the same breath of the world by offering the opportunity to see people whose lives had been and are literally shaped by their encounter with the movement. The guests of the first meeting were Hans Van Mourik Broekman, Dean of Liverpool College, who came especially to Dublin for the meeting; Fr. Michael Carvill, of the Fraternity of St. Charles and now responsible of the movement in the US, who connected via video call from Broomfield, Colorado; and of the second Mauro Prina, Director of Thermal Dynamics at SpaceX, connected via Zoom, Hsieh-Ning Wang from Taiwan, who met the movement in Dublin just ten years ago and who due to the time difference participated by sending her own video testimony, and Filippo Teatini, a young dad from our community.

Hsieh-Ning Wang from Taiwan

In the first meeting, it was impressive to hear how Hans Van Mourik Broekman, already an established principal of the prestigious Liverpool College, reading, or rather, devouring Giussani's texts during Covid – starting with The Risk of Education – was surprised and captivated by a totally new and corresponding way of what it means to educate, he who had wanted to be a teacher since childhood. It is a change that overwhelmed him and gave rise to the desire to meet the local CL community in Liverpool to understand and learn more about the movement. Gradually he came to adopt Fr. Giussani’s educational method, to the point of even changing the college bylaws. It strikes me deeply that in encountering Christ, through reading Fr. Giussani and the community of the movement, Hans had the humility to make such a change and is moved by his passionate educational work to bring out the "I" in his students, with all the need for Truth, Beauty and Goodness because "it is the only condition for them to notice Christ.”

Fr. Michael Carvill recounted that he had left the Church because, though raised in Ireland in a Catholic environment, he could no longer trace that fearless faith that had enabled St. Patrick to convert the whole island. A period of bewilderment followed, and it was only in Belgium, to which he had moved for work, that through a friend he decided to take her advice and visit the CL community in Milan. He was deeply impressed and fascinated by the person of Fr. Giussani in whom he found that certainty of faith he had been looking for, capable of embracing, without scandal, everything human. And he was struck by the students of the State University of Milan, whose faith allowed them to be in the world, completely free to accept the challenges that reality offered them. It was an encounter that completely changed his life until now, where in America he recognizes the total relevance of Giussani's proposal to people today to live a life in fullness, as recalled by the title of the event.

During the testimonies of Mauro Prina and Filippo Teatini

During the second evening, Hsieh-Ning Wang (Ning), who pre-recorded her testimony from Taiwan, took us through her discovery of the movement and the Catholic faith through her encounter with Mauro and his family in Dublin ten years ago. It was an encounter that she compares to that of Zacchaeus, moved by a curiosity towards that way of welcoming her that was so corresponding and new to her. It was an encounter that continues to this day in Taiwan in her hometown where she recently moved and that "teaches her to live fully her humanity and to accept the fact that life is a drama full of meaning."

Mauro Prina, Director of Thermal Dynamics at SpaceX, the company that Elon Musk created to take man to Mars, fascinated us in describing how the concept of experience and the position of openness and curiosity that belonging to Fr. Giussani's charism gives him are decisive for his work that is so full of challenges. The comparison to which he introduced us was illuminating: the dynamic he experiences is like electricity that continually flows between two poles that are the desire of the "heart," as reason and affection, and reality. With its challenges, it continually brings out in him questions about the ultimate meaning of the self and reality. These ultimate questions, seemingly so far removed from the problems that Mauro encounters, enable him to approach them with such curiosity and openness that they are the first means of addressing and solving them. Hearing him speak, it was evident that in him this vertiginous position of total dependence on reality has become familiar, possible only by virtue of his certainty in Christ.

Finally, Filippo Teatini, a young dad from the Dublin community, told us about his experience during Covid with a small group of children from some families in the community whom he prepared for their First Communion because they were unable to attend catechism. Here again, openness to the challenges of reality to which the movement constantly educates was the dominant theme. As Filippo summarized at the end of his testimony, the phrase that most describes his experience is from Leonard Cohen's famous song, Anthem: "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.” It is from the crack (the challenge that reality poses and the drama that arises in us) that the light can get in.

I think what happened in these meetings was just the reoccurrence of that Event that captivated us, Christ present now, through the witness of these lives changed and made so attractive that it aroused Brian's desire and supported Regina in her work.