Don Gianluca, a modern parish priest: “Marriage for priests? It would help pastoral life”

Don Gianluca Bresciani50 years old, parish priest of the Pastoral Unit of San Pellegrinois an “anti-traditionalist” priest, open to the possibility of marriage within the pastoral context, is committed to trying to make changes and innovations in the religious world to overcome an old legacy. And he also finds the time to devote himself to his passion for music and for sport.

The watershed stage in the life of a priest is the arrival of the vocationa crucial moment that marks the beginning of the journey towards God: “The vocation was born when I was little. Both the family environment and the oratory of Villongo, my hometown, have given me a strong aspect of spirituality and prayer, since I was a child I was included in these charitable references. Then I lived some experiences of activity in the oratory and undertook trips that further intensified this desire of mine, which was already present also in the participation in the life of the Church since I held the role of altar boy”. says don Gianluca, who goes on to explain what led him to the seminary, a place that allowed him to realize his vocation: “Some priestly references that I had made it possible for me to enter the seminary already in the sixth grade; there I embarked on the Passionist journey which lasted 7 years, then I moved to the Diocesan for another 7 years, allowing me to actually become a priest”.

Fundamental in the path of awareness before the choice is the family support who, in the case of don Gianluca, showed particular enthusiasm and pride: “We are 4 brothers. Dad died when we were all little but, from what mom says, he would have been as enthusiastic about my journey as she was. All 4 of us have had a seminary experience, but I am the only one to have become a parish priest, a source of greater pride”, explains the don, who continues by taking stock of what are the joys derived from the choice made and what, instead, are the main difficulties that pastoral life entails: “The priestly experience made me live 3 particularly happy moments: the first dates back to the oratory as edited in the parishes of the Upper Town, where I experienced the beginning of the ministry and a fruitful pastoral work of contact and growth; the second refers to the seminary, where I was called as vice-rector of the high school and held the role of educator, directly in relation with discerning boys with the aim of helping them grow as men; the third dimension is what I’ve been experiencing for 7 years like parish priest within the pastoral care of the San Pellegrino area and this is where I encounter the main difficulties. The positive aspects of my current life are certainly linked to the activity of bearing witness to the Gospel which allows me contact with the community, but there are many difficult moments and especially attributable to bureaucratic, administrative and economic factors, due to the load of intensity to which we are solicited due to the historical context in which the figure of the priest is placed”.

In addition to the physiological difficulties of everyday life, there were also difficulties related to the choice to become a priest, dark moments of uncertainty and doubt: “I had moments of fatigue in which I thought of doing something else, in particular there were 2 moments of crisis. The first moment dates back to the time when I wanted to be a teacher or a doctor, this was my projection for the future, but then my studies took me elsewhere. The second moment refers to the love theme, an event that helped me to approach this human feeling and to bring me, deliberately and with conviction, to the choice of being a priest. I believe that love is a dimension in which to pass, for those who live it well it truly leaves the possibility of undertaking the priestly soil with more empathy ” declares Don Gianluca, who then explains how he managed to overcome these moments of crisis: “I overcame them with the help of the figure of the spiritual father, with prayer and thanks to my personal journey of acquiring important awareness. I didn’t experience the fact of not having a woman and not carrying out the profession to which I aspired as sacrifices. Choosing to be a priest was not giving up something, but choosing someone”.

Don Gianluca then expresses himself on the wedding theme through a sincere account, taking a position clearly in contrast with the tradition to which the Catholic Church refers: “I believe that currently choices may coincide that go towards reconciling priestly life with a personal reference. For some time I too relied on the tradition of the Church, but in a more mature phase I reached the awareness that this could be a way to go, that is the fact of leave the choice to the priests to have a personal relationship of love, obviously not an obligatory choice. Others think that building a family would take time away from priestly life, and actually this would seem to be the only problem I find, but at the same time I believe that could become a prop to then live pastoral care and ministry to the fullest. I believe that many young people who have renounced religious life, if they had had the possibility of self-fulfillment at the family level, would now be priests”.

Another delicate and much discussed issue is that of material wealth of the Church: “Certainly the Church can be seen in her richness, as the owner of goods which are however also riches from a cultural and historical point of view, the fruit of an interesting human inspiration. In reality, the problem is not the fact that the Church can have all of this, but rather the use it makes of them: if these goods benefit everyone and are shared without becoming an enrichment to the detriment of others, then the problem does not exist. I think there is a lot of hasty judgment and little knowledge, we tend to see the good work as a matter of course and the bad work as a scandal: this is exactly what happens in today’s society, but it is an unforgiving, wrong and misleading reading. It is wrong to think that if one falls then the whole structure must fall” declares Don Gianluca, who concludes the argument by confessing that he is the promoter of some attempts at changes within the pastoral world:

The Church must necessarily open up and try to implement this is a effort that some are making to overcome a legacy that we carry with us. You would like to dare more but you can’twe would like to propose changes in the liturgical sphere, in the sacraments and on the theme of marriage, but we have fixed schemes and we reason according to an ancient tradition, finding ourselves faced with a fragile situation”. The theme is very current and highlights the need to undermine old principles, trying to promote an ecclesiastical reform and to move something starting from the base of the immense structure and making changes that can benefit the Church itself, perhaps helping to bring young people closer to the world religious.

Engaged in this difficult and tiring objective, Don Gianluca Bresciani also finds time to devote himself to old passionssuch as that for music and sport in general: “I have always been passionate about many disciplines and arts, in particular music and singing that have been with me since I was little. These interests have resulted in the ability to sing and play in various fields and also get to accompany theater companies in the 3 fundamental places mentioned above: I set up 9 musicals in the Upper Town, 3 in the seminary and 2 here in San Pellegrino, certainly assisted by competent people from a directing point of view. Generally I take part in the musical in the form of manager, accompanist and actor. The other dimension that is important to me in terms of interests is that of sport, which I practiced until a few years ago and have now stopped due to age and commitments. I have always played soccer, volleyball and attended athletic courses. In particular, football has accompanied me since I was a few years old, I was also part of a team that played in the league and I had lucky enough to be reported by Atalanta in eighth grade, but studies took me elsewhere. I don’t regret it because I had already played a lot and still had a lot of fun, if it had become a job I probably would have lost the playful aspect”.

Don Gianluca, a modern parish priest: “Marriage for priests? It would help pastoral life” – La Voce delle Valli