This 44-year-old priest's story is truly luminous and moving.
Today, we share with you an extraordinary story of death and rebirth, that of the dissolute young man who became Fr. Davide Costalunga.
“It seems impossible that the Lord looked at me, thought of me,” he told reporter Mariella Gugole of the Italian daily ‘A. The 44-year-old priest, ordained last October 8 in the Passionist family of Caravate (Varese, northern Italy), had a 10-year-long journey.
His youth was dissolute and devoted to vices: alcoholism, frequent unemployment, late-night partying, and turbulent relationships. He experienced much loneliness and suffering, years of emptiness and meaninglessness, feeling dead inside. Like so many young people, he was lost and beer became his best friend.
“I started working when I was 14 and having been thrown into the adult world, I went down the only road I knew: beer, discos, nightclubs … and everything else that made me die inside,” he told Gugole. “I didn’t understand that I’d lost the meaning of my life, that I was throwing my entire existence to the wind,” he told Italian weekly Verona Fedele.
The beginning of rebirth
There is one person – David’s mother – and one date – February 7, 2012 – that marked the beginning of his rebirth.
“It had been 20 years since I had gone to church, and my mom was very sick. I could not and should not lose her. She was the only one left who loved me. Only she shed tears for me,” he told the reporter.
He had hit rock bottom, and was persuaded by his sister Barbara to go on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. At first he only thought of having fun. “I was skeptical, hesitant; I didn’t even understand the reason for this trip,” he told Fedele. But then something happened.
At first he went around drinking cheap beer, but then he felt the urge to go to confession, and it changed everything.
“In that confession for the first time I felt loved, I did not feel judged, but discovered that there is a Father who loves me for who I am, with my limitations and weaknesses. Tears flowed from my eyes like rivers, a new life began that day, a new David was born.”
Truly, as Pope Francis says, “it is precisely tears that prepare us to see Jesus.”
That confession in Medjugorje marked the beginning of his new life.
David did not consider himself worthy of God’s loving gaze; he had done too many things, living a dissolute life without a purpose. But he experienced through the sacrament of reconciliation that God is a Father who is waiting for us with open arms even before we apologize to Him. His existence after his encounter with Christ was full once again of flavor, light, and hope – the same characteristics he exudes today as he tells reporter Gugole.
Now I enjoy everything I do (…) There are also those who doubt. Those who haven’t grasped the beauty and splendor of what I’m doing and so they think it’s a joke. Instead, since I discovered faith, I discovered Jesus who came to take me out of my hell. I was dead inside.
Fr. David is happy to be a priest because he has put his life in God’s hands to serve the Church. He will soon leave on a missionary assignment at the Passionist house in Tanzania. He told ‘A:
Now in the evening I can’t wait to fall asleep to wake up to the thought of all the good things I have to do, by giving myself. My past makes me appreciate life so much. Before, when I would wake up I’d ask myself, “Why live another day? I want to disappear, disappear.
He feels the Lord is calling him to help young people who are enslaved to addictions, as he had been.
There are young people who are tired and confused. They lock themselves up, and when I ask, “Why are you smoking pot?” they say, “Because I’m stressed.” They have no goal. Their cell phone and couch are their horizon. (…) I come down hard on the kids, try to wake them up, shake them up.
Fr. David has deep gratitude to all those who have supported and formed him. First and foremost, though, is his family and especially his mother, who left this world the very year her son began his turnaround. He told Gugole:
My mom was a rock. She never gave up until the end. I can’t forget her tears, similar to those of so many mothers of wayward young men. One must be able to nudge a young person on the brink in the opposite direction. A mother who goes to her son’s room, gives him a kiss, shows him her affection, her love…who in short does not give up: here, she can work a miracle.
And the story of this man who once was lost and today is Fr. Davide Costalunga is the most authentic proof of this. He says, “I was a wolf and I became a shepherd of the sheep.”