Hello and welcome!
Once again this week, we are hearing from one of our newly ordained priests of the Archdiocese of Boston. Last week, we heard from Father Michael Rora. This week, we are very happy to have a guest post by Father Andrea Povero.
My name is Father Andrea. I am originally from Italy and on May 19th I was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston after a long and beautiful journey of dialogue with the Lord. I use the word “dialogue” because, since I was very young, I came to understand that God is not a “concept” or a mysterious being up in the air, as many people today may think. On the contrary, in God I met a person or, more precisely, a Father.
Today, I am 30 years old and I can say that my personal “dialogue” with this Father started when an experience of suffering came to me and my family: the death of my earthly father, Franco. I was almost 8 years old, the youngest of 4 children: Mario, Valentina, Anna and myself. After several months of pain and going from one hospital to another, my father died “as a saint” in his bed at home with my mother and my brother at his side.
My father was a man who did not grow up in the Church. In fact, he had fallen far away from the Church, especially after the sudden death of his first wife after only 5 years of marriage. He suddenly found himself alone with a 5-year-old child, my brother Mario. But God was very merciful to him. Shortly after the death of his first wife he met my mother, who had recently come back to the Church herself.
She invited him to go to listen to the same catechesis that she had listened to only a few months earlier, the catechesis of the Neocatechumenal Way. Through this experience, my father started a long journey of faith that helped him to discover the love of God and to find the meaning of his existence and the answer to his suffering. (I am sharing some of the experience of my father because it is essential to understand the inheritance of faith that he left to me through his death and the root of my priestly vocation.)
The reason that I say my father died “as a saint” is because on the night he died he reconciled with everyone, asking for forgiveness and receiving forgiveness. The last words he spoke were addressed to my brother, who at that time was 23 years old and in the midst of a period of rebellion against God and the Church. My father told him, “Mario, open the windows, Christ is coming!” Shortly afterward, he passed away.
My father’s experience of finding God in his life, along with his last words, made a great impact on me. They marked me immensely. They became like a shield that protected me, especially as I was growing up and faced different experiences that would lead me to doubt God.
I thought about becoming a priest for the first time when I was 13 years old. That idea scared me, and I decided not to share it with anyone. Like most teenagers in today’s society, I had plans for my life that did not include the priesthood.
I was a very sociable kid; I had a lot of friends, I loved to play sports, and I was in love with “the mountains.” I spent many weekends hiking and climbing the Alps. In addition to all this, my mother made it possible for me to attend an excellent school.
Humanly speaking, I had everything that a young man could hope for in life. Nevertheless, inside of me there was always a deep tension. I knew that the death of my father had left a great sense of insecurity inside of me. Many times, I felt I did not really have someone to rely on. This was exacerbated by the fact that, after the death of my father, my older brother left the house and went to study in another city. Anxiety became one of my worst enemies. I had friends and I had the desire to study and build my life, but yet there was always an internal turmoil that stayed with me. In the school, the beliefs of my friends were constantly contradicting the faith that I saw in my house. For many years, I lived with one foot “in the world,” trying to fit in with the lifestyle of my friends, and another foot in the Church. At one moment, though, this duplicity broke.
When I finished high school, I found myself very confused. I had dated a girl for a while until she found someone else. Life suddenly seemed as if it was a huge mountain standing before me, and I felt I was not able to climb it. I missed my father very much and the friendships I had built throughout the years were no longer enough. I began university, but a few months later I decided not to continue. I always wanted to study, and I never would have thought it was something I wouldn’t succeed at.
I fell into a time of deep sadness and anger, the relationships within my family became very difficult and I entered into a “fight” with God. I felt that God was creating a desert around me. I was angry at Him, yet I could not completely close the doors of my life to Him. And this was because of the “inheritance” left to me by my father. His last words, addressed to my brother — “Mario, open the windows, Christ is coming!” — were inscribed in my heart. In a way, what my father had told us was that Christ was the only truth. So, as much as I would try to put God aside, I could not do so completely.
It may sound absurd, but it was in the midst of this period of conflict with God that I felt very strongly that He was calling me to the priesthood. That thought, which I first had when I was 13 years old, came to the surface again and refused to leave me. God appeared to me like a father looking for his son. I found myself surrounded by people who were constantly reminding me of God’s unconditional love for me — even in those moments when I was angry, lashing out and in conflict with everyone. I experienced that God knew my life and understood my suffering in a way that no one else could. Little by little, I began to see God as my father and the death of my earthly father as a blessing, and not as a mistake.
It was during this time that I attended the wedding of one of my cousins, whose brother was a young priest. In the middle of the reception, he walked up to me and said, “Andrea, what are you waiting for to enter the seminary?” I hadn’t told anyone — not a soul — what I had been thinking, and yet he said this to me. I couldn’t believe it. I felt that that was a clear word of God for me.
Some months later, I decided to attend a youth meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. There, God made clear to me that my way of happiness was through the priesthood. After a time of discernment, helped by my Neocatechumenal community, my catechists and my parish priest, I decided to enter the seminary. I was invited to attend an international retreat of men from the Neocatechumenal Way who were thinking of entering the priesthood, and within two weeks I was sent to study at the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary of Boston.
In the seminary, I have really experienced that God is my father. I have found my place, and I don’t feel like an orphan anymore. I no longer feel abandoned.
If I have ever felt an absence in my life because of the death of my father, now I have a presence of God the Father in my life. It is because of my loss that I experience God the Father in a deeper way than I think many people do. I feel precious to Him. I realized that my whole life was a preparation for this mission.
As for my first assignment, I was assigned by Cardinal Seán as parochial vicar of the Jamaica Plain/Roxbury Collaborative of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and Mary of the Angels Parish.
So far it has been a great assignment with many challenges and lots of work. In the short time that I have spent here, I have already seen the action and the power of the Holy Spirit and I am sure that God sent me here to learn how to live not for myself, but for others.
I pray that God will keep me always faithful to what I have received and that He may give me the strength and the wisdom to be a faithful shepherd!
Pray for me,