Christian Meert

President

Saintly Parents Inspire Holy Children: Venerable Attilio Giordani

01-Saintly-Parents-Blog-Attilio-Giordani

With Mother and Father’s Day fresh on our minds and hearts, I find myself thinking about sainthood and parenting. It is the chicken-and-the-egg type question... Does parenthood make you a saint? Or do you first need to be a saint to be a great parent to your kids?

Being a good parent is a difficult task at best, and saintly? There are days when that seems unattainable. For parents to inspire their kids, I think we need to be inspired as well. I started doing research on saintly families. I wanted to find holy men and women, dedicated moms and dads, who were able to raise a family and live their faith fully. I was surprised at how many examples we have in our Catholic faith. I wanted to share some of these inspiring stories with our readers, in a series of posts called Saintly Parents. I will intentionally omit the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Joseph (for now). They both deserve a special post that will take me a little longer to write. I wanted to begin with a few lesser known saints.

 

A Saintly Father on a Crusade: Venerable Attilio Giordani

 

Attilio Giordani was born in Milan, Italy in 1913. From an early age he was known for his love of prayer. At age eighteen, he began working as a leader at his local Catholic youth center, and continued for decades to be a diligent catechist. He was known for his great sense of humor and joy. He loved God with his whole heart and prioritized his life of grace in the sacraments, prayer, and spiritual direction. In 1944, after the war and his military service, he married a fellow catechist, Noemi D’Avanzo. She was the love and light of his life. Together they had three children – a son, Pier, and two daughters, Maria, and Paola.  As a husband and father, he was an example of serenity and kindness.

 

Attilio was a man of action. The spiritual strength that he gained by being strong in his Catholic faith, and in his relationship with God, led him to a virtuous life, and inspired his children, wife, and community. He taught his three children how to live their faith through daily example. Attilio's life was made up of small actions, every single day, that shaped him into a saintly father. He was careful to make time to pray, read the bible, go to adoration and daily Mass, and pray the rosary. This spiritual strength led Attilio to found a movement, in the 1950s, called “Crusade of Kindness (or Goodness)”, which tried to bring hope, joy, and kindness, back to his community post war. His movement spread throughout Italy and received the support of both Archbishop of Milan Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Pope Paul VI) and Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (the future Pope John XXIII). 

 

His wife and children have spoken and written about what life was like at home with Attilio, and it was his outlook on life that inspired this Movement. They said he always sought out “undercover virtues” in other people that might be overlooked. He taught his family to act with serenity and make decisions that would never cause suffering to another person. Every decision he made was prayerful. His daughter once commented, “When Dad came into the home, he was all ours. He never brought in the outside tension or problems of the day. He was always available and calm. Willing to listen. At home, we were so close that we just understood each other and felt loved, even beyond words.”

 

Attilio’s saintly example to his children inspired this son and daughters to travel to Brazil as volunteer Catholic missionaries and Catechists.  In 1972, when he was 60 years old, he and his wife decided to follow their children to Brazil and volunteer as catechists. His health was declining, and he had suffered a mild heart attack a few years earlier, but he wanted to continue to share his faith and live out his crusade of kindness. While in Brazil, he suffered a second heart attack. Before he passed away, his last words to his son were “Pier, you carry this on…” Attilio was referring to his legacy of love, kindness, and faith. His son was already following in his father’s saintly footsteps. He was declared a Servant of God by the Church in 1994, and Venerable in 2013 , or living a life of heroic virtue. He did it. He was a saint and raised holy, kind, and good children in their faith.

 

There are three main “saintly parent” lessons that we can take from his life story:

 

1) Prioritize prayer and find your “parenting strength” in God, and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and Mary.

 

2) Be good and kind to everyone in your home and everyone in the community. Live kindness and see goodness in people. That is a valuable lesson to teach kids, and they will learn by example.

 

3) Be a man and dad who puts his faith in action. That does not necessarily mean going to Brazil to be a catechist. It could mean volunteering at the parish or going to daily mass. Don’t just say the words. Live them. 

 

Prayer Inspired by Venerable Attilio’s Story:

 

Prayer Before the Blessed Sacrament

 

Lord Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Eucharist.

As I receive you in Holy Communion,

help me to love as you loved, serve as you served,

so, I can be the Body of Christ to others.

(Especially my wife, children, and community. Give me the grace to be a saintly father, who teaches my children kindness with my daily actions.)

Amen.

 

 

 

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