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NAZARENO TADDEI, A JESUIT AHEAD - 3 THE CALLING


di ANDREA FAGIOLI

THE CALLING

 

You spoke about your superiors, about your studies and about the «City of boys», now I'd like to ask you when did you have the vocation and why did you join the Company of Jesus?

My sister died, giving her life so that I would became a Jesuit. But I knew that only later. I was a seminarist in Trento, first or second year of high school, I don't remember exactly. All I know is that I wanted to quit. I spoke with Monsignor Montalbetti, who was the auxiliary bishop, to tell him I didn't want to keep on studying at the seminary. He convinced me to stay. I didn't know anything about the Jesuits, I only knew one Jesuit and I didn't like him, I used to meet him walking around in Trento. I didn't like him because he was so calm and self-controlled, almost holy. From my point of view Jesuits were embodied by that father I disliked, so I didn't have any intention of becoming one of them. My sister, who graduated at the Catholic University, during the solemn profession she took my name when she became a nun, and she didn't tell me a thing. She offered her life to the Lord so that I would became a Jesuit. After few months, while I was in the seminary doing some spiritual exercises, I went to the chapel and took my place, there were the usual books of prayers and among the others there was the «Manual of the devoted to the apostolate of the prayer » and I wasn't much interested in it. Nonetheless I took the book and running through the pages I saw '' Company of Jesus, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Margherita Maria Alacoque''. Three names I noticed but the one that impressed me the most was ''Company of Jesus''.  By instinct I was struck by the thought  «I have to become a Jesuit». Four years later, I was a novice, I learned that my sister fell ill: it was a common cold that turned into pneumonia and then into bronchopneumonia. Eight months later she died of phlebitis. Before dying, the doctors thought sea breeze would have been good for her so she was sent to the nuns of Rapallo where I met Cardinal Ottaviani by chance.

So your vocation happened while you where already in seminar not earlier. So, why did you enroll in the seminary?

Because I wanted to be Pope!
 

Well, the year of birth was the right one since you are the same age of Karol Wojtyla.

Yes, I'm 15 days younger than him. Jokes aside, my aunties wanted me to become a priest. So when I enrolled in the seminary I was eleven, but some years later as I said I wanted to quit. I didn't want to be priest.

Can we say that your sister choose for you?
 

Of course. Even if in the end I'm the one who decided but it took me four years. Once I made up my mind I've always been faithful, or so I think. I always tried to use that sense of honesty that they taught me when I was a kid.

When where you ordained?
 
I was ordained the 15th of June 1952.
 
What memories do you have of when you were ordained?
 

I remember that during the last years of theology I wasn't in good health. From Padua I had been sent to Rome, it was the end of 1949. In Rome, for what I recall, I didn't have good contacts from the spiritual point of view. Once a monsignor that is now dead, told me: «Listen Taddei, you are a gifted man, you can have a good career but how can we give you a career if you don't prove us that you have confidence?» You know, I decided to be a Jesuit because I didn't want to have a career (our order explicitly says that) so I told him I didn't know what he meant.  « You have to do something to allow us to blackmail you -he said - For example, steal something or go with a woman...that way we are sure to have control over you». I had to say I was sorry, but I couldn't «prove that way that I had confidence». For me that was a shock, even if I wasn't a kid, I had finished the period of novitiate, the magistero, philosophy and I was just starting theology. I was convinced of my choice but hearing this really impressed me. I wondered «In what kind of world am I leaving?» Meantime I had similar contacts in politics, Christian Democrats obviously. So I told myself «I have to profess theology in an effective way because if those are the ones who have to pursue Christianity it's not worth for me to sacrifice my life, I'd rather quit now that I have not been ordained yet. But I'm studying theology and I want to be sure that theology is a valid argument. Even if I were the only one to respect it, at least my conscience would be at peace». So I started to write issues (the only ones available at the time because the professors' books didn't exist), issues of dogmatic theology for professor Father Flick.

How did it end?
 
Well, I'm still here!
 
I can see that.
 

Well, on my third year of theology I was supposed to celebrate mass but I couldn't because I had a nervous breakdown. My superiors sent me to Switzerland so that I could recover. Meantime I kept on studying and preparing for the exams. The provincial father, Pietro Costa, told me: «I don't know if I will ordain you, because we are not sure yet». So I said back: «Listen father, if you don't ordain me because you don't trust me it means I took the wrong way». « But you're still ill». «Listen father, if you don't ordain me I'm leaving now». Then he was very fatherly, he said: «You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to have you ordained in Trento, in the chapel of the Seminar where you had the vocation to the Company of Jesus ». And so it was. In the same year, 1952, I had achieved the baccalaureate at the Papal Gregorian University of Rome.

 

(….) 
The other chapters: THE MOUNTAIN, MUSIC, CINEMA AND TV, FELLINI, THE OTHER DIRECTORS, THE METHOD, THE MISSION, MENTAL ECOLOGY, HYPNOSIS, THE INTERNET
Andrea Fagioli, Nazareno Taddei un gesuita avanti, ed. Edav, Roma, 2000
 


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