FATHER MARCO PACCIANA
My name is Marco Pacciana. I was born in Bari, Italy in 1975 and grew up in a small town named Ginosa in the province of Taranto (Puglia). My parents were not particularly devout, and I did not receive any real upbringing in faith, except going to CCD to receive my sacraments. For this reason, like many young people in Italy I stopped going to Church when I was a teenager, before receiving my Confirmation. I had other interests in life, and I was focused primarily on getting a good education. Those were also the years immediately following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and I shared with my friends the heady excitement that spread across Europe, inspired by the dream of universal freedom and peaceful coexistence. We thought a new era was dawning: the era when man would finally realize a paradise on earth. In 1992 during a vacation in Buffalo, N.Y. to visit some relatives, I read a book by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “The Strength to Love”, where I discovered the message of the Love to the enemy preached by Christ, this time presented in a concrete historical people. It was an eyeopener: I understood that if Christ had preached this message, he must have been God, since no man, not even the greatest of philosopher, had ever spoken of it and because I knew that man cannot possibly love in that dimension out of his own strength. After this experience I went back to practicing my faith, even though it was only at Sunday Mass. My relationship with God was slowly growing, but it was only two years later, at the age of 19, when I felt the strong need to deepen my relationship with God and I asked advice to my pastor. He suggested I followed the catechesis of the Neocatechumenal Way that were about to start in the parish. In the meantime, my life had undergone a tremendous change: in November 1993 my mother’s clothes store, which she and my uncle had inherited from their father, went bankrupt and few months later, in March 1994, my father suffered a major stroke and became bedridden, reduced to the level of a child (he would eventually die in 1998). Moreover, my own sentimental life seemed to be a series of disappointments. The following year, 1995, my only brother, who has a physical handicap, lost his job as journalist and had to come back home. In a word, my world was completely shattered and, finishing my high school, I found myself with no direction in life. This is the situation I was living when I encountered the Neocatechumenal Way, a reality that made me enter in the Church from the “front door” and that, after few years, would have brought about a radical, unexpected and at that moment unimaginable change of my life. Through the Neocatechumenal Way, I started to realize that God was calling me not only to deepen my relationship with Him, but to leave it in an exclusive way. Little by little, God started to rebuild my life and to reconcile me with these sufferings. In 1997 in Paris, during a vocational meeting held by the initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way following the World Youth Day with the Holy Father John Paul II, I felt God calling me to the priesthood. I started a time of discernment helped by the team of Catechists of the Neocatechumenal Way responsible for vocations in Puglia. I was struggling a lot with this call, especially because I had in mind a totally different plan for my life: to get married and have a family and children. Nonetheless, God was stronger than me, my sins, and my rebellion. After three years of alternate moments between acceptance and rejection of this call, in 2000 I eventually finished my study and got a license degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures. In September of that year, I was invited to yearly vocational retreat in Porto San Giorgio (Ascoli Piceno, Italy), held by the International Responsible team of the Neocatechumenal Way. During that retreat I saw very clearly that God was calling me: the only thing I can remember of those four days of intense preaching was a sentence by His Excellency Juan Antonio Reig Pla, then bishop of Segorbe-Castellón, “Young men, do not be afraid because this is not the story of your faithfulness to God, it is the story of God’s faithfulness to His promises.” My last doubts were dispelled, and I gave my name to be sent everywhere. I was assigned to the Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary Redemptoris Mater in Kearny, where I arrived three weeks later. During my seminary years I helped with the New Evangelization in Israel for one year and in Pacific Islands (Guam, Hawaii, Saipan, Kiribati) for four years. I served as deacon in the parish of Holy Family, Nutley, NJ. I was ordained on May 28th, 2011 and served as parochial vicar at the parishes of Our Lady of Good Counsel and Immaculate Conception in Newark (2011-2014) and St. Mary’s in Plainfield, NJ (2014-2017). On August 1 st, 2017 I was appointed rector to the Redemptoris Mater Diocesan Missionary Seminary of Bridgeport. During all these years God has proved Himself faithful both in taking care of my family and giving me the best years of my life.