Telling our story
I was in Brazil, with dom Luciano Mendes de Almeida, bishop of Mariana. I strongly believe that my meeting with him represented a very important part of the plans God has for me. His presence is central to my life and, hopefully, also mine in his. That meeting had a particular aim: I wanted to ask him to write a Rule for Sermig, because many people have been asking it for a long time. He attentively listened to my request and then answered: “I can’t do it. It is the founder of the organisation who has to write the Rule. God gave this gift to you”.
I felt anxious because I did not know what I would be able to do, but I accepted his advice, given that something good always happened when I followed it.
I began to think about what the basis of our shared path, our activities and our faith was, but it was actually not difficult to find: our basis is Jesus. He represents the fundamental meeting of my life, the eternal sense of everything. Since I met Him for the first time, His Word became my word: a hard path to follow, albeit not impossible. When He said: “If you will not feel like children again”, I felt He was speaking to me, and I believed Him.
When He taught us to pray “Our Father”, I felt deeply within me that we all are His children, and like brothers and sisters for each other.
When He said: “Pray constantly”, His words became my breath.
And “Love your enemies”: I did not consider it just like advice, but like an order.
I understood I love Jesus. I did not build on unstable sand, I built with Him. My life has been like this, with its ups and downs, like for anyone else, but my love for Jesus has always remained constant. Everything I had to face, I faced with His support.
From this basis, I began to pray and reflect, and cleared my mind and heart to write this Rule, which I have never wanted to be inflexible.
Our Rule is closely connected to our story. Sermig organisation was founded on the 24th of May 1964, in a historical moment of strong protest.
In that moment, to be considered a real Christian, it was necessary to claim, to condemn and to embrace an ideology, but we just wanted to stay on the side of Jesus, the Son of God, who spread a message of eternal life, saying “the heavens and the earth will disappear, but not my words” and “the forces of evil will not triumph”.
We stayed on His side to defeat hunger, injustice causing misery, and particularly sin, in all its forms of pride, selfishness, hate and violence.
Thus, this adventure started, involving not only ourselves, but also our time, our minds and our material and spiritual goods.
Suffering and many obstacles made us discover silence and the force of being unarmed.
We struggled to understand what it means to love your enemies and we realised that sometimes it is even more difficult to love those who should be your friends. It was precisely in those moments that we really felt all our weakness.
We put our youth first in our shared project of creating an educational community, and Jesus became our everything.
Thus, our wish to be with the young and act for them began to develop and then extended also to the poorest, but not just those far away. We committed to help also all the poor people living next to us, both Italians and foreigners, prisoners and victims of illegal traffics, sick and old people, political refugees and the homeless, lone mothers and their children, disabled children and young people.
All those friends helped us understand that nothing is impossible when you embrace Jesus, as a shoot embraces the grapevine.
The lack of resources we experienced when we opened our first arsenal in Turin, on the 2nd of August 1983, made us discover that the Providence of God acts in situations of imbalance.
And we experienced its support in everything we did. Thus, we began to realise that our commitment should be unconditional, like the dedication of a sportsman, the faith of a dreamer and the simplicity of a smiling child.
We became a community within the Church, the Brotherhood of Hope, but without abandoning our original name: Sermig, “Servizio Missionario Giovani” (“Young Missionary Service”), holding the meaning of our mission.
During all these years, Mary surrounded us with Her tenderness.
She guided us to Her son, Jesus, the Lord of our lives, revealing to us the fatherhood of God and the power of the Holy Ghost.
And also now, it is Mary who guides me while I trace the lines of this Rule of life that shall give strength and a future to our adventure. This Rule shall encourage us to say: “Yes, my Lord”, with joy, as Mary did. And it is to Her that I wish to dedicate this adventure, so that She will protect it and help it being another lasting work of God.
São Paulo of Brazil, 6th August 1996