Frassati Australia leaders Nathan Costin, Abraham Hewitt and Dave Powick visited the incorrupt body of their group’s namesake Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati in Turin, Italy, this week, as part of a special 16-day pilgrimage to “encounter the man that inspired us so much”.
The young men began their pilgrimage to Italy last Monday, accompanied by their spiritual director Fr Paul Chandler and Trevor O’Rourke, a Brisbane-based leader in professional travel management.
As well as visiting the tomb of Blessed Pier Giorgio, the group will also visit the Shroud of Turin, the headquarters of newspaper La Stampa, which was founded Pier Giorgio’s father, and speak to Pier Giorgio’s niece Wanda Gawronska, the president of Associazone Pier Giorgio Frassati.
Fr Paul and Mr O’Rourke planned the pilgrimage with the help of Brisbane-based Catherine Smibert Toomey, who has been a long-time friend of the extended Frassati family.
Frassati Australia is a ministry for young men between the ages of 18 and 35 who are either studying or working in Brisbane.
It is one of many groups worldwide that, inspired by the life of Pier Giorgio, calls young men to a deeper devotion to the Virgin Mary and the Eucharist.
There are currently 14 members in Frassati Australia who live in four different households located throughout Brisbane.
The men are encouraged in their own personal life, seek to live as an active brotherhood, and help young men to participate in the life of the Church.
Nathan Costin, one of the founders of Frassati Australia, said the pilgrimage would be a great opportunity to pray for the direction of the ministry, which began in 2011.
“Hopefully by visiting the places Pier Giorgio visited and immersing ourselves in his culture and his life, we’ll get a better understanding of the direction we want to go,” he said.
“I feel like we’ve grown it so quickly and I can see the Spirit moving, so now I just want to hand that over and see where God’s going to lead us and guide us,” he said.
Nathan said he and the other Frassati Australia leaders also hoped their pilgrimage would fuel future pilgrimages to Turin.
“We’re sort of like blazing a trail, so to speak, to see the sights and see what we can do or hope to do in the future with the pilgrimage,” he said.
Pier Giorgio’s life story made a deep impression on Nathan’s life, which challenged him to live a more authentic life.
“I first encountered Pier Giorgio in 2011, and I was just really blown away by his witness and his testimony, and just seeing a young guy who is able to live life to the full, live out his faith, but at the same time bring all his friends along with him,” he said.
“He was just very good at engaging other young people in the faith and to develop a relationship with Christ – it’s really powerful.
“He’s very current, very recent, and he did it all by the time he was 24, which I really resonate with that.
I’m 24 now, and so I just think he’s an incredible witness for young people,” he said.
Born in Turin on April 6, 1901, Pier Giorgio was a proud Catholic young man who spent much of his life encouraging others, especially other young men, in their Catholic faith.
He lived a dynamic life, often seen mountain climbing, playing pool, and reciting Dante, and his enthusiasm for life made him popular among his friends, peers, and even teachers.
His greatest charism was his love, care and respect for the poor.
While he had discerned religious life, he instead decided that being a lay Catholic would help him to serve the poor more closely.
He contracted poliomyelitis, which doctors suspected he caught from his contact with the sick, and died on July 4, 1925, at the age of 24.
On May 20, 1990, Pope John Paul II beatified Pier Giorgio and called him the man of the Beatitudes. Blessed Pier Giorgio was also named the official intercessor for World Youth Day 2013 in Rio.
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