“I was sick and you visited me,” is the Gospel sentence that Roberto Tassano, a young nurse from Genoa, Italy, had received from Chiara Lubich in answer to his desire to be more active in living the Gospel. From then on, this sentence became his life project at work and in all the corners of his daily life, placing himself at the service of the ailing and the least.
He was born in 1953 into a beautiful family of working farmers. Roberto’s adolescence was spent in searching for the strong need he felt of living for something great in life, which he already felt so strongly within him.
His encounter with the spirituality of unity took place in 1970. Rather than a thunderbolt, it was a gradual and ever deeper insertion into the community of the Movement in his city.
Little by little, he was conquered by the Gospel, and he found in it a new way of loving: that universal and radical love of Jesus. At the age of 28, he decided to become involved as a “volunteer of God” in the Focolare, making service to his brother and sisters his key point.
At first, inserting himself into a group of volunteers who were considerably older than he, was not that easy. But Robert did not lose hope and shortly afterward recounts: “There was a step forward that I had been waiting for. We said that we needed to deepen our relationships, get to know each other better, in order to build the family among us. This found resonance in all the volunteers. The freshness returned and we finally were able to share what Jesus had done in each one of us in the preceding days.”
This working as a team coupled with our daily relationship with God, is the secret of Roberto’s way of working with the patients. Being a nurse not only by profession, but as a choice of life. He writes: “The sick person is a Tabernacle and I should approach him with great love, because God is there waiting to be loved in a very special way. I feel that this is the same measure I need to have with everyone in the world.”
In the same spirit of service, together with an adherent from the Focolare, he was nominated in the elections of the local commune and he spent his life for his young family.
In 1984, he had to face a very painful trial, together with his wife, Tiziana: the death of their son. To believe in God’s love and say yes to him in this awkward moment was no easy feat. But once he managed to do this, things became fruitful, there was the strength and joy of a new love.
On 14 June 1985, he confided to his volunteer group: “Many times I find myself sitting in Church; and even though I can’t keep focused, I feel that I’m well. It seems that I can say in these moments that my relationship with God is serene.” The next day, God unexpectedly called Roberto to him. He was just 31 years old. His friends testify to how prepared he was for this “encounter”.
Besides the love “spread” during his brief but intense life, Roberto remains alive now also through his “Consorzio Tassano” that bears his name. This cooperative which is part of the Economy of Communion, came into existence in Sestri Levante, Genoa, Italy, during the last months of Roberto’s life. And it was strongly supported by him. It is a consortium which, while remaining a company group, works for the integral promotion of the company and of each of its members.