Meet our seminarians: Francesco Martini-Varvesi

Pilot photo/ George Martell, Office for Vocations

Home Country: Italy. Home Parish: Parochia di S. Tarcisio Rome, Italy. Seminary: Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan House of Formation. College: Universita di Roma Tor Vergata. Hobbies:

Reading, music, cooking, cooking, cooking!

When was the first time you thought of priesthood?

Two years ago during a retreat of the Neo-Catechumenal Way.

What were major Catholic activities you participated in prior to the seminary?

I have attended some World Youth Days (Paris, Toronto, Rome, Cologne) and I have participated in some parish activities such as pilgrimages.

What is your favorite Scripture passage?

Roman 8:11: “Though your body may be dead because of sin, but if Christ is in you then your spirit is life itself because you have been justified.” This passage constantly reminds me that left to ourselves we can do nothing, but in and through Jesus Christ we are called to a new life guided by the Holy Spirit.

What was your involvement in parish life before entering the seminary?

When I was younger, I was an altar boy. When I was 14 years old, I joined a Neo-Catechumenal community in my parish and ever since I have attended each week the celebration of the [Liturgy of the] Word and the Eucharist (on Wednesdays and Saturday nights) with this community.

Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.

A Franciscan priest in my parish, and then a homily I heard during the pilgrimage to Cologne in 2005 to celebrate the World Youth Day.

What would you say to a young man who thinks he may have a vocation?

Don’t be afraid to follow the will of God. In his will you will find happiness.

Please tell us, what are some of the most important parts of discernment?

First of all, I think it is very important to look at the signs God sends you. It is also important to seek guidance from a priest or spiritual director either in your parish or in the diocese who can help you with vocational discernment.

Is seminary formation what you thought it would be? How is it similar or different from your expectations?

I already knew what seminary formation would be like due to my time in vocational discernment when I visited many times the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Rome.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Since I’ve always wanted to live in the United States, people would be surprised to know (as I was!) that I was assigned by lottery to a missionary seminary in the United States. For me, this is a sign that God is the one who guides my vocation.

What activities would you recommend in order to foster a culture of vocations?

I think creating “vocational centers” where young men can come together and discern their vocation. Opportunities to come together and discern with others could help them discover if God is calling them to enter the seminary.

What influence (if any) has Pope John Paul II had on your vocation?

Pope John Paul II has had a big influence on my vocation. I remember one of his speeches which I heard during a meeting with the youth in St. Peter’s Square where he invited all the youth to have trust in God and to follow him. By following God, we lose nothing and find everything.

How did you come to know Jesus Christ?

I came to know Jesus Christ through the catechesis of the Neo-Catechumenal Way and through living in a community with many other people who were different from me but with whom I found communion. From this community, I saw how God acted in my life and in the life of brothers and sisters around me.

What were some of the spiritual events or activities that helped you develop and shape your personal relationship with Christ and his Church?

The Eucharist. The Vocational Center. Pilgrimages.

What was your career or background before entering the seminary?

Before entering the seminary I studied economics at the University of Rome.

Please describe the importance of prayer in your life.

I discovered little by little the importance of prayer through the Neo-Catechumenal Way. I can see how prayer is a daily fight in which the Lord invites me to follow him.

What are some of your favorite and most important spiritual readings/books/passages?

My favorite spiritual book is the “Confessions of St. Augustine.” I can see how God loved Augustine and reached out to him in his sin.

What is your day like in the seminary?

We wake up at 6:30 a.m. and have morning prayer, breakfast and then have class at either St. John’s Seminary or Boston University. Then we pray midday prayer and have lunch. We study in the afternoon. We gather for evening prayer and dinner. Sometimes we have time for recreation. On Wednesdays and Saturdays we go to the parishes and join our community for the celebration of the [Liturgy of the ] Word and the Eucharist. We conclude the day with night prayer.

How does the priest best follow in the footsteps of the Apostles?

By exercising his ministry in communion with the bishop and living his priesthood with joy.

The Pilot, in cooperation with the Office of Vocations, is publishing a series of brief profiles of the men preparing for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston. For other profiles or if you think God may be calling you to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, visit the Vocations Office Web site at

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