Let’s listen to S.E.R. Mons. Bona, Father Diego, bishop of Saluzzo, the person God’s Providence has chosen to accompany our ecclesial journey in a significant way.
Dearest Father Diego, since the time of your arrival in the Diocese we have felt that you were particularly close to us. What did you see in the Community Cenacolo?
I met Mother Elvira in Rome when I was the Bishop of Porto Santa Rufina. She told me that the healing of the youth welcomed into the Community Cenacolo came by means of prayer and I was surprised. I came to Saluzzo in 1994. I tried to observe the Community in person (there were three houses in the Diocese: on San Lorenzo’s hill in Saluzzo, in Envie, and at the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Snow) and I saw how the youth were praying, often kneeling on the ground in front of the tabernacle and you can immediately tell whether prayer is forced or if it comes from within. The climate in the house was of true communion, where everyone helped one another or at least tried harder to do so each day, and of serenity which shone on their faces, living in freedom.
What drove you to look towards us with trust and hope, without being disturbed by out pasts?
I heard the youth of the Community tell their life stories.
Almost always, at the end of a meeting, Mother Elvira asked one or two of them to tell their experiences, their life passed “from the darkness to the Light” like the title of one of the Community’s recitals. I remember the celebration of a memorial mass for a young man and how a priest during the homily confessed of not needing to believe in the Resurrection because he had already seen it in this brother (who knew how to tell of it in a much loved song of the Community: “Redress yourself with Light”).
On the feast of Pentecost in 1988 you recognized the Community Cenacolo as an Association of the Faithful: giving us the immense gift of having an ecclesial identity. What convinced you that Cenacolo was a work of God with the same appearance of the Church?
Life in the first Christian Communities is described twice in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2,42 and Acts 4,32) “They were devoted to prayer, the breaking of bread, the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, and everything they owned was held in common”.
I saw the same characteristics in the Community Cenacolo and how can you not recognize the face of the authentic Church, like “those of Jerusalem”?
I received confirmation when, shortly after, the Secretary of the Congregation for Consecrated Life, where I presented the story of the Community, suggested recognizing it as an “public Association of faithful”, passing from it’s first description of “private Association”, as an authentic proposal of Christian life.
In these years with you as the guide of the Diocese, the missions in Latin America were born, we experienced the pilgrimage to Rome, the first vocations arose for priests as well as for consecrated life, the House of Formation, the first Saturday adorations open to young people. How have you experienced and followed this journey?
I gazed upon all of this with wonder and amazement, because it was unexplainable without the Holy Spirit or God’s finger. Step by step, without prearranged calculations, like thread that unwinds and marks God’s will which became clear.
I remember when I was asked to accept young men from the Community in the journey towards priesthood, the first ordination, Mother Elvira’s proposal for a special consecration for girls that were pressing for this journey, like the day of the Jubilee of 2000 with that caravan of young people and parents that were entering Saint Peters by the holy door, Community of redeemed and saved, the people that God loves.
This is how I wanted to express myself in the letter-testimony to the Papal Council of the Laity which was considering the recognition of the Community as part of the Holy See: “a sign of hope for those who live without hope, wounded and thrown into the streets of life, and a cry of solitude that Mother Elvira heard during nights of prayer, when she sought how to respond to the call that came from her heart”. Like I have said many times, I see in the Community Cenacolo a sign of credibility of the Gospel, because evangelizing is not to gain a following but to arise interrogative and whoever encounters this must question themselves about where this joy comes from. You can buy and sell everything in this world, except joy. This comes when you encounter Jesus Christ, like the martyr Giustino writes in the year 150 ac, when he defends his choice of living as a Christian before the Roman emperor.
As a “Father” who loved and guided us in our ecclesial journey, will you give us advice to continue quickly towards the will of God?
I do not know how to give advice, except for a warm urging to trust in God, who has made this Church sprout and grow, extending its branches to many different nations and he will surely suggest His will for the good of many brothers and sisters if we are humble, if we listen, if we have faith and insistent prayer.
With these wishes I quote the Gospel of John “and this amazes you? You will see greater things than these!” (Jn 1, 50).
Dearest Father Diego, We are very much obliged. Thank you for how you welcomed, loved, and followed us in your ministry. We know that we have a special place in your heart, but also know that you have a special place in ours. We are infinitely grateful for everything.
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