“Adults must witness the cry of life for children”

Silvio Cattarina with some young people from the L’Imprevisto community in Pesaro

“Adults have to do witness to the children the cry of life. Difficulty, fatigue, pain are there … but they should not become self-punishment, as young people are doing now, with drugs, depression, isolation, gambling. Crying in the heart everything is turned against oneself, within oneself! We no longer know how to cry out to life, to God who embraces us, who comes to meet us, who gives us everything our heart needs ”. It is the message that Silvio Cattarina – founder and manager of one of the most beautiful and ancient experiences of Communion and Liberation (CL) the therapeutic and educational community The unexpected of Pesaro – releases to young people in difficulty and their families. But also to those who are looking for something beautiful, great, in their life.

The event “A passion for man”

Cattarina was invited last Tuesday to Fabriano, in the Carlo Acutis oratory of the parish of Sant Nicolò, for the presentation of CL’s 2022 Rimini Meeting, “A Passion for Man”, moderated by Carlo Cammoranesi, director of the weekly “L’Azione”, and the greeting of the rector don Aldo Buonaiuto. Bishop Emeritus of Fabriano-Matelica could not miss the meeting, Msgr. Giancarlo Vecerricaamong the heirs and friends of Don Giussani and founder of the Macerata-Loreto pilgrimage.

Next to Fr. Giussani: the life of Silvio Cattarina

Silvio Cattarina was born in Storo to Trentino on January 3, 1954, where he spends his early years and where he often returns, taking with him his family, the children of the communities and many friends. He goes to high school a Pesaro, guest of the Villa Marina boarding school. During this period he met Communion and Liberation (CL) and its founder, Don Luigi Giussani. He graduated in Sociology in Urbino in 1979. In 1980 he married Miriam with whom he had four children.

He knows Don Gaudiano and began working as an operator in the Gradara Therapeutic Community where he spent seven years. He later favored the birth and directed the Therapeutic Community of S. Carlo di Cesena.

A photo from 1990 with Silvio Cattarina on the far left

On October 1, 1990, always with Don Gaudiano, he gives life to the Therapeutic Educational Community for deviant children and drug addicts. Then “L’Imprevisto”, the Day Center, the “Tingolo per tutti” women’s therapeutic community, the Reintegration Homes and the “Più in Là” social cooperative were born.

In the meantime, having also obtained the title of psychologist, he organizes and participates as a speaker, in Italy and abroad, in different moments of study, seminars and congresses. The Centers and Communities set up by Silvio Cattarina are an experience which has something unique and represent a point of reference and a model observed and studied for their relevant interest and interesting results.

Silvio Cattarina with Pope Francis during the audience of L’Imprevisto with the Pontiff. Rome, June 6, 2018

The interview with Silvio Cattarina, founder of L’Imprevisto

You are the founder and president of the L’Imprevisto Social Cooperative: what do you do?
“The L’Imprevisto Social Cooperative responds to the educational and therapeutic needs of deviant children and / or drug addicts, minors and adults of both sexes. The staff of the Communities, made up of psychologists, sociologists and educators, tries to offer their guests a comparison environment that gives them the opportunity to identify with significant adult figures. Children are accepted and welcomed in close collaboration with the Municipal Social Services, the Local Health Administrations, the Social Services of the Ministry of Justice and the Juvenile Courts. The goal that marks the path of life in the community is to educate and accompany the person so that they become aware of the damage caused to their own identity by the practice of drug addiction or deviant experience and how much they are. responsible for this; and to reconstruct one’s own real identity, that is, to reconstruct an adequate and non-illusory consciousness of one’s own “I”, with all the consequent capacities of knowledge, affection, work, sacrifice … important for the achievement of a mature autonomy on the part. of the subject “.

What is the meaning of this name, The Unexpected, which not only arouses surprise but hope?
“It’s really hopeful. The name comes from a poem by Eugenio Montale, entitled ‘Before the Journey’ – from the collection Saturated – which ends with these verses: ‘And now what will happen / of my journey? / I studied it too carefully / without knowing anything. An unexpected event / is the only hope. But they tell me it’s stupid to say ”.

Have you ever thought, as a young man, that you would accept this mission and carry it out all these years?
“It simply came to our notice then. That is, he wanted to ‘do great things’ then. Today, over the years, I’ve come to realize one thing: I didn’t want to do great things, but what great things they told me! That is to say, that great people, great teachers, would trust me and educate me in beautiful things, out of the box ”.

So it was an unexpected event that you dealt with addictions?
“Yes, it was just an unexpected event. Happy. My mother, a simple woman, always said to me, ‘Silvio, you have to have a big heart. You’ll have everything you want if you have a big heart, not if you think it will be the result of your ability, effort, or intelligence. ”She, an uneducated woman, had understood the secret of life!

Silvio Cattarina and Don Aldo Buonaiuto, rector of San Nicolò and director of In Terris, at the event “A passion for man”. Fabriano, May 17, 2022

How would you summarize your life experience with the boys?
“I’ve always been addicted, I’ve grown up with them, I’ve never been anywhere else. But, against all appearances, it is more what I received than what I gave: they taught me everything, alas, those who take them away from me … they are the unexpected of my life, an overabundance of grace that comes at the meeting. it wraps us up wonderfully. Even evil and pain — in a sense — are an overabundance, an overwhelming need for love. In pain and suffering lives a mystery to look at, before which to kneel and bow one’s head. “

When did you first meet the CL movement and what did you first hear?
“My first meeting took place when I was a child, in high school. At that time I was a little ‘messy’, a little worried … I belonged to the far left … One day I met some guys who started to fascinate me. They loved each other, they loved reality, they were excited about life. This impacted me, it attracted me a lot. In the meantime, I also met Don Giussani. “

What do you remember about Fr. Giussani?
“Father Giussani always made you see great things! It was the ‘fire’ with which he burned his person! This is what fascinated us about him. At that time he did not bind others to himself, but always to something much greater than himself.

What is the legacy of Fr. Giussani in an age marked by the rage of social media?
“The work of Fr. Giussani is always relevant because it makes known the heart of each person and the desires that are housed there. He came from his heart … and we wanted a heart as big as his. We understood that he was a friend of God and spoke of God, but in any case he started from our heart, from all that is great, beautiful, useful and right to desire in life. It always came from the man, from the person. “

What testimonies did you bring to Fabriano’s meeting “A Passion for Man”?
“Two girls spoke in the Oratory dedicated to Carlo Acutis. Alessia, 25, who started her career in 2017. She suffered a divorce from her parents when she was 5 years old. Being a little with one, a little with the other, a double life was created. In eighth grade, he started using cannabis, believing it was safe. He thought that thanks to the substances he would fill the void he felt inside. But that did not happen. At age 19, she met a very old man who referred her to cocaine. It was the unexpected negative but also positive of his life. When she fell into addiction, she met a SERT operator who, “like a fallen angel from heaven” – as she says – listened to her and helped her. This is how L’Imprevisto entered the community where it began a path of recovery. Today he has rebuilt his life and also his relationship with his parents. Today she is a free woman! The second witness was Luana, an adopted girl who, for this reason, has always felt ‘recently’ compared to her classmates. When she was growing up, she tried to silence the pain with drugs, a mistake that so many boys make, and establish bad relationships with drug addicts, becoming pregnant. One day he took drugs with a friend of his, but he overdosed and died. It was the day she realized that if she didn’t get out of the tunnel, she would die too. So in 2019 he entered the Pesaro community. At first it is difficult for everyone to trust someone again, but the good that we pass on to these young people helps them to forgive themselves, not to feel judged, to feel loved ”.

The event “A passion for man” at the Carlo Acutis Oratory. From left: the girls of L’Imprevisto, Carlo Cammoranesi, Silvio Cattarina, Don Aldo Buonaiuto. Fabriano, May 17, 2022

What can these witnesses teach?
“My children’s life stories make us understand this: first of all, addiction is not a problem of the psyche, behavior or being fit for life. It is an educational problem in the true sense of the word. Children, but also adults, no longer know the great value of each person, of life, of reality. We no longer know why we are in the world! This is the big starting point! Fr. Giussani always started because we are in the world. If we no longer know these values, everything becomes useless, empty, pain, boredom, defeat … If we help each other to understand the value of life, everything starts again! Isolation and distancing were not created by Covid, but they have been around for a long time. As well as depression, the passivity of young people. The Covid and the war (with all the atrocities and evil that is emerging between brothers) have taken this situation to the extreme. “

So how can you help these guys?
“Adults must bear witness to the cry of life. Difficulty, fatigue, pain are there but they should not become self-punishment, as young people are doing now, with drugs, depression, isolation, gambling. The cry in the heart is all directed against oneself, within oneself! We no longer know how to cry out to life, to God who embraces us, who comes to meet us, who gives us everything our heart needs. My kids ask me, “How much do you love us, Silvio?” I answer them: “I love you, but the most important thing is not how much I love you. It is essential that I show you how much I cry in life, how much I cry to God. Everything we have in our hearts we must know how to shout, because there are those who hear it! The real drama is not drugs and prison, but how your heart is closed! ”

Silvio Cattarina with his book “The Unexpected – The Lost and Found Youth”, ed. Ithaca, Castle of Bologna 2018

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