So, first of all it seems right to me to start this story from the beginning. After getting married Paola and I discovered that it would be impossible to have children. Paola would get pregnant; but because of an auto-immune disease (anti-phospholipids) that would appear in the third month, a spontaneous miscarriage would occur. We lost three children like this (not lost, because they are in Heaven and pray and intercede for us). The third miscarriage occurred here in Brazil, where we were volunteering at a Catholic institution that welcomed children from the streets. We lived a truly difficult moment in that time, with a lot of discouragement and doubts. We lived with many children from the streets 24 hours a day, dedicating a part of our life to an ideal, freely… to sum it up, was it possible that God couldn’t do anything?
Instead, God was patiently working in our hearts; he was preparing us for a bigger and more profound Motherhood and Fatherhood than our small minds (better to say hearts) could imagine. The sun that rises after a storm is a more beautiful sun, brighter… truer! At a certain point we asked ourselves what to do or, rather, what to be. We looked at ourselves internally; above all we looked at “our children” that were living with us - children from the streets without a family that God gave us the Grace to help. Looking beyond the pain and the sadness of the impossibility of having biological children, we thought that if we had remained in Brazil for only a year before returning to Italy, the children entrusted to us would have been abandoned again; and they would have lived that sufferance of abandonment again. Therefore we decided to stay here… for how long? Forever. We said our “YES” that we renew everyday, forever. And thus God has been able to do wonderful things. We have understood that in order to be able to leave God the space, time, and possibility to work miracles in our lives, we must give Him our whole lives - everything depends on our “yes.” The only daily “medicine” that we allowed ourselves to take has been daily participation in the Eucharist and the simple, but powerful prayer of the children (orphans) that were living with us.
A this point the first of a long series of miracles happened. Paola got pregnant (against the opinions of all the doctors) and Francesco Maria was born, after whom came Stefano Maria, Tommaso Maria, Filippo Maria, Lorenzo Maria, and Giovanni Paolo Maria! But it didn’t end here. Two years ago six brothers, from 2 years old to 10 years old, came into our household (Paola and I have been living for thirteen year in Community Cenacolo of Brazil, which welcomes about 70 children from the streets). So, following the court verdict that would definitively depose the legal protection of their families, they would have been adopted by six different families, with little possibility to be able to see each other. We had already seen this coming; and they, given that they lived unitedly during their sad story, let out a great cry: “Don’t do this, please, don’t divide us, don’t you all abandon us, too!” - they would say this between sobs. Paola and I were very shaken and worried; therefore, separately and without sharing it between us, we had the same idea and the same decision. Only that we both had a lot of fear to take a step so… irresponsible!! Therefore, we separately asked God for a sign to understand better if it was His will to adopt all six of them! If we were truly capable to educate them, console them, to give them a true family. There were also other doubts and worries: how would our other six children welcome them; and then, would we find the strength, the patience, the Love (divided 12 ways) that was necessary for this difficult task? On more than one occasion I have heard parents of adopted children tell of all the various difficulties, problems, refusals, and dramas that they have lived. In our houses for recovering drug addicts there are many guys and girls that have lost themselves in the various drugs of the world! Would we be capable??? Are we ready??
There were truly many questions and doubts. Therefore, only God could give us the answers. Thus, we asked Him for a sign: “Lord, if You consider us to be a family adapted for this delicate step… it has to be Sister Elvira (in whom we clearly see the presence of God) to tell us it. I repeat - I asked this without saying anything to my wife, and she did the same thing asking the same sign, without saying anything to me! At the beginning of last year (January 2008), we sent a letter to the Community in Italy that asked if anyone knew a family ready to adopt 6 Brazilian brothers; the judge had told us that they would be officially adopted after only a few days. The following day (it was Easter day) Sister Elvira answered us, saying, “We have not found any family ready to make this great gesture of Love and Trust in God, but I have thought to ask it of you, what do you think?” She added that, if we would have said “no,” she would have fully understood. “I am conscious of the responsibilities that you all must carry forward: 70 children, plus your six children; in the end, don’t worry in the least of telling me ‘no’.” Paola began to cry and told me it was exactly what she had asked God - whether it be the adoption or Mother Evira’s confirmation!
Imagine when I shared with her the various details - we understood that it was God’s will. That He was with us! We hugged each other, we cried together, and immediately we organized ourselves to confront the most difficult part - the legal work! In fact the psychologist at the court hearing asked, “How much do you earn a month?” “NOTHING!” I answered, a bit embarrassed. “We are missionaries, we work for an Ideal, not for a check.” OK, but they’re talking about entrusting six boys to us for the rest of our lives. “What do you possess? What insurance do you have? Life insurance, health insurance…” “No, we’re sorry, nothing!” “Well, what do you have to be able to make such a request?” We thought for bit and then answered, “The Faith and a big desire to give a family to these six children!” His eyes watered and he told us to wait and that he would go speak with the Judge. Well, I won’t bore you with details, but I only know that the doors opened, one after another: after the psychologist, the Public Minister, then the Judge, after which the adoption had to be legalized in Italy, therefore the Juvenile Court of Turin… it all went really well. It’s logical that one influence was the fact that in these past years Community Cenacolo has earned a lot of respect, with good results, whether it be in Brazil or in Italy; but the miracle stands, however, because today the six brothers are our children with all the effects! In addition to this a huge miracle is that, together with the children, Jesus has given us more patience, more courage, and more desire to begin again; He has given us the awareness that, to become true educators, we must first be educated ourselves. From who? Yes, from them; we must learn from our children how to be parents.
The Love divided into 12 has doubled instead of diminished. There are difficulties, the moments in which we also ask ourselves, “Are we crazy, what have we done?” However, I assure you that it was worth it - we are happier, more achieved people. Our life is more “full.” And we feel that the strength of the Lord sustains us everyday - it is the Love of God that pulls the cart between defeat and conquest, the Mercy of God that forgives our sins of our biases, our faults, our incoherencies - it is He who draws the straight line among all the crooked ones…To sum it up, we are no one special but happy nonetheless! There are also great joys, like when I come home in the evening, and 12 lively, noisy, wonderful pests jump on me. The moment in which we give them a bath… between socks and underwear that fly everywhere… could be filmed! What tenderness it is when the biggest bird helps the smallest do homework, or helps him brush his teeth; or Sunday morning when one-by-one they come in our room and jump all over our bed. In the end, it’s true that the problems are multiplied by 12; but the joys multiplied as well!
And now for the miracle that God has worked in our lives through the intercession of John Paul II. Last year we were all in Italy - the plane ride was paid for by some friends; and so, in addition to having participated in Community Cenacolo’s Festival of Life, we went to Rome to John Paul II’s tomb in order to thank him. In addition to having asked him for protection, intercession, strength and wisdom, we consider him our “Pope” because he was with us from the beginning - it was during his papacy that I converted, that I completely changed my life, that I entered Community Cenacolo, that I met my wonderful wife with whom I share this incredible “adventure.” In the end, I think that we are part of the millions of youth that have literally been taken by the hand by the Holy Father in our walk of Faith.
When we got onto the bus to go home we asked our wonderful children what they would have asked for as a gift from John Paul II. Seeing as though they’re 12 boys, ALL of them asked for a little sister!!! I’ll start by saying that in these years we have had many visits to the doctor, whether in Brazil or in Italy, following the four spontaneous miscarriages. We discovered that the children were all girls; Paola’s illness prevented girls from developing in here womb. Therefore, the doctors diagnosed that it was “impossible” for Paola to carry forward a pregnancy with a little girl.
But for God - and we know this well - NOTHING is impossible!
God always listens to a child’s Prayer; and so, on April 2 this year (the day on which John Paul II went to Heaven) Maria Chiara Luce was born!! Our first little girl was accompanied the whole pregnancy by the image of John Paul II attached to Paola’s stomach and her brothers’ simple, yet precious prayers.
The Lord continues to bless us! To love us. To help us. Every now and then I think that it all came from that little “yes,” pronounced years ago with fear, with insecurity… with our poverties. How many wonderful things God can do with our simple, poor, but very important “Yes.” A great big, special “thank you” to our Pope John Paul II!
Maurizio, Paola, the 12 apostles and Maria Chiara Luce