Ravagnani, ordained in 2018, is assigned to the Parish of St. Michael the Archangel in Busto Arsizio, a town of around 83,000 people just north of Milan. He is responsible for the parish’s large youth oratory, where he also lives. There he works with around a hundred youth from elementary through high school.
Speaking about his vocation as a priest, he told CNA: “In the midst of my faults, my limitations, my weaknesses, I know that where the Lord has planted me, I can bring forth fruit. Already I have seen some fruit. And I realize my life is for doing this.”
“Now I feel very happy, really, because I have found my place in the world,” he said.
But he did not always feel that way. Explaining that he did not grow up in a particularly devout Catholic family, Ravagnani said he was taught the faith in catechism classes, in his parish, and in youth group.
When he was in middle school, he became a catechism leader for younger kids, getting to play games with them and lead them in activities.
“This I liked a lot. I felt really fulfilled,” he said, “because I had the opportunity to do good for others through my talents, my abilities.”
But starting in high school, he “didn’t feel completely happy. There was something wrong.”
Everything changed for him when he was 17 years old and went on a week-long camping trip in the mountains, organized by his parish.
Ravagnani said: “There I am sure I had an experience of God that I had never had before in my life. And I felt really loved by God, and it changed me.”
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“At that point, I met God. I began to pray, because before I didn’t have a particularly strong belief. And I decided to enter the seminary.”
Asked about the risks of internet fame for a Catholic priest, Ravagnani said that the temptation to make yourself the center of attention, or to craft a cult of personality, exists as much in the pulpit as on Facebook.
“There are -- and I know some -- priests who really feel like they are ‘stars,’” Ravagnani noted. But he thinks this stems from a misunderstanding of the priest’s role as a servant of his people.
Flash forward three years into his priesthood, and Ravagnani has 130,000 followers on Instagram and more than 89,000 fans on TikTok. In February, he opened a “room” on Clubhouse where he gives a 25-minute reflection on the Gospel of the day, leaving space for questions from those who join.
He said that his YouTube videos would continue but at a slower pace as he starts yet another new project, one he is really excited about: a show on the live-streaming platform Twitch.