My name is Matteo, and for a few years now I have lived in Community. I come from a large but divided family—my parents got divorced when I was only two months old. I lived with my older brother and my mother, who, in the meantime, had met another man who I saw as my father. But after some time my real father began to be more present in my life; I went on vacations with him and sometimes stayed at his house; in the end this situation allowed me to live my childhood without any big problems. Then, at a certain point, my parents began to fight more and more, destroying the existing balance. Even if my memories are a little vague, I remember that my mother suffered a lot; as a consequence, us children also suffered. One day my mother’s boyfriend went away, leaving us alone with another sister that was born in these years. The world crumbled all around us; my mother began to drink and I was distanced from her for some time. I seemed calm; school was going well, and I played soccer. But inside I had a war of doubts and lots of anger for living this distance from my mother. With time things got a little better; my mother didn’t drink and we finally returned to being a united family. But by now anger and rebellion were very much a part of me. I began to do worse at school, to disobey, and to tell many lies to mask the sense of abandonment that I felt. It was then that everything began: the first cigarettes, the first joints, and then all the other drugs. I thought I had resolved all my problems because my inferiority was disappearing, and my fears and timidity didn’t exist anymore. Thus, little by little, evil took my life into its hands. For years I was a slave to drugs, sex, and music… when I was eighteen my path was already clear—sooner or later to die at some “rave.” Nothing and no one mattered to me as I left my home in search of constructing my own life. After ruining my relationship with my girlfriend and losing my best friend in a car accident, I fell at the feet of evil. I fell into a strong depression; and, after time spent in recovery in a hospital, I felt the need to ask for help. I remember the first person to be there was my brother; and through his friend, an “ex” of Community, I came to know of its existence. I didn’t know what it was all about or how the things functioned, but inside of me there was a voice that told me it was the right path. I began to go to the meetings, and I liked them a lot because I met people that understood my problems. Thus, after various meetings and working days in Community, my entrance date finally arrived. However, the fear of changing and losing all the pleasures of the world were stronger than my will; after several days I left. The consequences were obvious: another period on the streets in the presence of evil, until the drop that overflowed the jar—losing a son during my girlfriend’s pregnancy. I suffered a lot; but I thought about the clean eyes, the smiles, my family’s sacrifices, and the goodness that I received in those days in Community. Thus, with a courage that didn’t come from me and hope in my heart, I returned to knock at Cenacolo’s doors. I had a lot of fear and anger, but I was convinced that I had to do it. Now I know that it was God that took me by the hand and guided me here. The first days were difficult, with lots of rules that didn’t make sense to me. All the happy guys, the prayer, the way the guys were friends with me without personal interests—they were all things that I had never experienced in life and that I thought didn’t even exist. Often I think of the patience that the “old” guys had with me in my first period, of the times in which they made themselves uncomfortable for me, of the struggles they had to help me understand that life itself is more valuable than everything, of the moments spent together on our knees in front of Jesus in the chapel--everything that made me encounter that living God that, in my ignorance, I had always searched for. After several months I began to feel life pump in me again, and I saw myself as a better person, more capable of smiling and being unselfish. I remember the first time I did “guardian angel.” I had several months in Community and still lived with a lot of insecurites. Finding myself in front of a guy with the same problems as me made me live many things, but it was then that I began to understand the fortune that I had in encountering the Community. Despite my poverties and weaknesses that now and then surface in order to help me understand that I need to walk in light and true friendship, I feel happy and accomplished.
I want to thank Mother Elvira from the bottom of my heart because with her life and love for us youth lost in darkness, she has given us a testimony that God is light. Thank you.