Interview on Young Focolares Alberto and Carlo

Interview with Monsignor Marco Tasca, Archbishop of Genoa, on the Closing of the Diocesan Stage of the Servants of God Alberto Michelotti and Carlo Grisolia: ‘They Are a Beautiful Sign’

Alberto and Carlo
Archbishop Tasca Greets the Mothers of Alberto and Carlo

The diocesan stage of the Causes of the Servants of God Alberto Michelotti and Carlo Grisolia concluded on October 8, 2021. Once the investigation is ended, the minutes will be sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, where the study phase will begin for the final judgment, after which these Servants of God, with the approval of the Holy Father, will be able to be proclaimed Venerable.

Carlo and Alberto, young members of the Focolare Movement, had lives that ended prematurely in 1980. Alberto died on August 18, after falling during a climb of the Maritime Alps. Almost at the same time, Carlo was diagnosed with cancer, which ended in his death 40 days after that of his friend.

Alberto and Carlo lived an intense story of friendship between them and with their peers, supported by the evangelical ideal of a united world and universal fraternity, according to the spirituality of Chiara Lubich, Foundress of the Focolare Movement. In the years after their death, the memory of these youths and admiration for them grew and a true reputation of holiness spread in their surroundings.

Monsignor Marco Tasca, Archbishop of Genoa, presided over the celebration of a Holy Mass of Thanksgiving in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception of Genoa at 6:30 pm on October 8. Before beginning the Eucharistic Celebration, he gave this interview in which he explained what this story of friendship means to him as a path of holiness, and what this important moment represents for the Church in Genoa.

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 Monsignor Tasca, what do Alberto and Carlo say to us today?

 They are saying to us that the fact that we are here together to remember them is something very lovely; it means that they left their mark on the life of many people, which for me is very important. After reading their story over the last few days and knowing their lives, my attention was caught by the fact that their relationship was based on friendship — a value that I don’t think is at the center of interpersonal relations today, whereas Alberto and Carlo were able to make it the basis of their lives. They were occupied from morning to night with their studies and their social life, but one of them would say “tonight I’d like to go to Mass, although I’m very tired, I’ll go find a Mass in the city.”

They were young and lived a very normal life, however, it had that extra spark, which enabled them to realize the synthesis of their lives when they were only 20. I’m very happy to be here this afternoon because it means that the Christian faith continues to be possible today; that it’s possible to live the Gospel, as the lives of these two youths attest that we are remembering.

Is today a day of celebration for the Genoese Church?

 Of course! It’s a day of great joy because it’s about two Blesseds who lived in this city and who found their path of faith here, and who witnessed the Gospel. However, we must remember that, if they become Saints, they will be Saints for the whole Church. It will be a beautiful gift that the Church of Genoa will be able to give to the whole Catholic Church, namely, the universal Church, spread throughout the world. It will be the testimony and example of two youths who followed the Gospel seriously, living in the simplicity of a normal life and who, in the serenity of daily life, were able to be a convincing sign of fidelity to the Word of Christ. They were persons that communicated their faith with their life, which is a great grace for us all.

 Beyond their spiritual elevation, Alberto and Carlo were youths committed to others, to their neighbourhood, to social associations for a common objective: to take to all the gift of the evangelical ideal of a united world  and of universal fraternity. Do you think this aspect is capable of fascinating many young people today? Why?

 Today many young people are involved in social work, although they don’t make much noise or have much relevance. However, I know many of these young people, full of interest and capable of initiatives, who dedicate themselves to doing for others. This is a wonderful sign of the will of our young people, of their desire to give themselves, of their desire to have a great ideal to fight for, it’s something that attests to their strength to say: “I’m here for someone, not only for me, and I am concerned with another person.” This is what Alberto and Carlo have taught us today, and many young people continue with this plan of life.

What effect will this devotion have for us? How can we have these examples of young lives, which the Church offers us, be a resource in the journey of faith?

 The fact that we are here this afternoon is already a great resource for the Church. We are here to thank the Lord for these two brothers of ours, two Christians who lived their faith with simplicity, with serenity, but who were able to be relevant, who were able to understand the particular aspect of their lives: one a lover of mountains and the other of music. They were really able to take the beauty of the Christian life, the joy of being Christians where they lived, through the experience of the Focolare Movement; encountering it was a great grace for them. Today we thank the Lord because in His ways (we know how these 20-year-olds died) He was able to make us understand the fulness of life and of testimony in death.

Today is an important day for the Genoese Church. How can we accompany the journey that starts today?

 The journey that initiates today is accompanied in the measure in which we are able to talk about these two youths and make them speak to others, through friends, acquaintances, and those that lived with them, of those who had the grace to share something of their earthly journey. We are here tonight to say that we must know Alberto and Carlo because we can extract from their experiences a very important message, not only for us but to take it to others. Yes, we celebrate Holy Mass, we thank the Lord for the closing of the diocesan process and the opening of the Roman phase. However, the most important thing is that these two youths have something to say to the world, which is a beautiful sign.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester