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New York Encounter Day 2: The Faith of Father Giussani

by Monica Lickona

The preview of the exhibit on Luigi Giussani

This exhibit was a beautiful example to me, and I’m sure to many others, of how easy it is to encounter this man Giussani over and over again—and how each time it is fresh and new.

Jonathan Fields introduced the three panelists, some of whom knew Giussani in the flesh, some who didn’t. But each were there to share their experience of this man Luigi Giussani.

Holly Peterson, who knew Giussani personally, presented a clip from the recent film on the life of Father Giussani; the film, which can be found in the whole virtual exhibit on Giussani, is widely known in Italy, yet it has not received much attention in the United States. The clip served as a visual presentation of who this priest from Milan was. We immediately encountered a man who was certain and joyful in front of reality.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre continued the panel by sharing what he had learned from Giussani on education. The question of education is relevant to all of us, for each one of us, he said, has come up against the fact that what was once self-evident is no longer sufficient. This collapse of the self-evident has led us to the “isolated consciousness,” which has inevitably given way to an existential uncertainty (a theme which can be seen in many of the events this weekend). The Archbishop illustrated how Giussani’s approach to education from the starting place of the human heart allows us to attack this “isolated consciousness,” to actually have a dialogue with each other. For Giussani, there is an essential good to pursue that which attracts your human heart.

Barry Stohlman took this conversation a step deeper by sharing how this man Giussani, whom he had never met, changed his life as a husband, father and business owner. His experience further emphasized Giussani’s impact in the education of the person. Through Giussani and his own experience, Barry discovered that the pursuit of the self-made man narrative is not worth it; instead, what changed his life was “openness to all of reality and absolute trust in the human heart.”

For Father Luigi Giussani, the education of the person was paramount. A man’s “yes” to what is given will lead him to his “yes or “no” in front of Christ--the most important question he will ever encounter.


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