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Meet Rome’s youngest priest

Father Lorenzo Colombo and the other priests who were ordained for the diocese of Rome on April 20, 2024

Provided by Father Lorenzo Colombo

Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 04/26/24

25-year-old Lorenzo Colombo was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Rome on Saturday, April 20, 2024, along with 11 others.

On Saturday, April 20, 2024, in St. Peter’s Basilica at 6:00 p.m., 25-year-old Lorenzo Colombo was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Rome, the pope’s diocese. At the Mass celebrated by the outgoing Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, 11 new priests were ordained for the diocese, the same number as in 2023 and 2022. 

At 25 years old, Father Lorenzo is now the youngest priest in the Italian capital’s diocese and is serving as an assistant pastor at a church on the western outskirts of the city.

Born in 1998, he entered Rome’s minor seminary at 13 years old and then moved to the major seminary when he turned 18.

Aleteia spoke to him about how he discovered his vocation and what it is like to make a lasting decision at such a young age. 

Father Lorenzo Colombo, ordained a priest for the diocese of Rome on April 20, 2024

When did you first feel called to discern a path to the priesthood?

Father Lorenzo: Everything started on the day of my First Communion, May 1, 2008. Shortly after receiving the Eucharist, I felt something different in my heart: what exactly, I am not sure; I wouldn’t know how to describe it. However, from then I started asking myself what God wanted from my life.

Thanks also to my discussions with priests who accompanied me, and who I opened up to, slowly I came to the realization that maybe God was asking from my life to become a priest. That this was the way to live my life happily, as a Christian. 

When you entered the minor seminary you still continued attending high school with other students. What was that experience like? 

Father Lorenzo: When I told my classmates that I was in the seminary at the beginning they were very wary and scared. But then as they got to know me they realized that I was a normal guy like them, maybe even a little bit “crazier” than them. Thank God, still today, my high school friends remain some of my true friends. They came Saturday to the ordination Mass and it is a friendship that continues. 

Living in the minor seminary was nice. I was with 12 or 13 other teens who were all united by this wish [of discerning a call to the priesthood]. We lived a normal life, but we played, studied, prayed and did charity work together. We lived as Christians in a community, like the first disciples right after Jesus’ resurrection. 

As you got older how did you come to the conclusion that this was your vocation? 

Father Lorenzo: Slowly, you become aware. Obviously the Church plays an important role through the formators, the pastors, who God places beside you. Even in the seminary there is the spiritual father and others that help you understand if this is in fact the vocation to which the Lord is calling you.

So it is a discernment that is done not by yourself but with the help of priests and with the Lord through prayer. 

Did you have moments of doubts or hesitation? How did you overcome them?

Father Lorenzo: Yes certainly. Moments of doubt were not lacking but I thank the Lord also for having sent them to me. It is exactly thanks to those moments that I was able to understand the reasons that brought me to stay in the seminary, to stay on the path towards the priesthood. There were nice moments where the Lord was present and I thank Him that I was able to remain faithful despite everything. 

You might think there are times in your life where the Lord is more present than in others, but it is exactly in those moments that you realize that the Lord has always been there, in the daily events. Jesus is always next to us, but there are more times we don’t notice it than there are times we do.

You were ordained at 25 years old. Some may see this as a peculiar choice at such a young age. How would you respond to this skepticism? 

Father Lorenzo: What I usually hear from others is, How can a young 25-year-old make a definite decision for his life? How can he make such a big choice? I think nowadays people are always trying to postpone everything, getting married, putting off making important choices, tending to live eternally as children. 

But being a Christian inevitably brings us to being adults. I think people who ask me these kinds of questions believe that it is impossible [to make these kinds of choices], and I tell them that they can make decisions about their life, even at a young age, because the Lord has promised you happiness and great joy. 

How do you think the fact that you are very young can help you now in your life as a newly ordained priest?

Father Lorenzo: I am not exactly sure. I also teach religion in middle and high schools and I think it is easier for young people to talk to someone that is close to them in age. I remember when at my church there was an assistant pastor who was 10 or 12 years older than me, it was easier for me to talk to him.

My students ask to speak to me, to discuss things, they ask for help. This is a very beautiful experience, because it is a relationship that doesn’t stop at merely transmitting knowledge but goes beyond that. Young people today really need someone who listens to them. 

How do you feel about being a priest in the Pope’s diocese? 

Father Lorenzo: It is always touching that in the ordination rite we make a promise of obedience. Here in Rome it says something along the lines of, this person “promises to our bishop, Pope Francis, filial respect and obedience.” 

So we pledge this obedience directly to the Pope; all priests naturally need to obey the Pope, but in that moment we are making this promise to him as our Bishop and it is beautiful. In my opinion it is a sign of this universality of the Church that doesn’t stop at the borders of Rome, or of my parish, or of wherever I am from. 

It is a treasure and beautiful to have the Pope, the Successor of Peter, as a bishop. It is even maybe “enviable,” every time we celebrate Mass we get to say it in communion with our bishop, Pope Francis, or whoever the Lord will send to this ministry in the future. We Roman priests are very attached to the figure of the Pope because he is here. 

Tags:
PriesthoodPriestsRome
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