The first time I heard the name the Verona fathers, or Mirfield for that matter, was when Fr. Luciano Fulvi came to my school. He was what was known amongst the Verona Fathers as their Vocations Director. And it was his job to go around all the schools in the UK “seeking out” potential vocations for the priesthood and the religious life. He must have done this job very well. In the 1960’s junior seminaries were full.
It seems bizarre to me now, that as a child of 12 years old I could make such momentous decisions about leaving home and attempting to train to become a missionary. No one in my family believed, or would have thought for one minute it would be me – my brother yes – but not me.
Anyway there I was, sitting in my class listening to Fr. Luciano Fulvi talk about the African Missions. Or more importantly, as far as I was concerned, the African wildlife. Even then I was passionate about wildlife and nature. His stories of lions and elephants and of hunting and fishing were what hooked me. The missions or missionary work did not play much part, and why should it? I was a child and a dreamer and I already had that Nile Perch at the end of my rod and on the hook.
When Fr. Fulvi asked the inevitable question at the end of his talk, “is anyone interested?” my hand shot up and I ticked the box to say I wanted more information.
I don’t care to remember too much about my time at St Teresa’s Catholic School in Liverpool, but on reading Mark Murray’s piece on this blog I had the most vivid memory of the day the Italian Priest came to our School.
Father Fulvi had Italian style and finesse dripping from every pour of his body. Dressed in a traditional black suit and white dog collar with his swept back black hair, glasses and a softly spoken Italian accent, he was everything that I or anyone else I knew was not. And he was everything I would like to be.
The war in Biafra had begun around this time and there where images of death and destruction on our TV screens and newspapers. Our Church and School had a number of fund raising events symbolised by a starving child, bloated belly with tears and all.
Fulvi’s slides, animal skin shields and tribal spears showed a very different kind of Africa, smiling children sounded a western missionary as they posed in front of a school built (or so I believed)by the Verona Fathers. This was above all else the best and most interesting lesson I could remember at my school. And before he left he strongly appealed to the boys in the class to help to bring the word of God to Africa. An A4 form was placed in front of me on my desk and my Teacher filled out my contact details all that was left for me to do was to tick column “A” which would commit me to help with fund raising by selling the Verona Fathers Calendar or tick column “B” if I was interested in becoming a Priest.
There were two things I was absolutely sure of!
First, I was committed to this wonderful man and it would be unforgiveable if I was to let him leave my classroom without showing him my gratitude and Christian Solidarity. Second, I knew I was not capable of selling calendars.
Was fulvi the only recruitment priest? ,did anyone else get recruited by another priest?
He was certanly very charismatic and he must of accounted for a good percentage of semmanarians.
As far as I can remember he seemed to be a good role model the perfect example of a christian missionary.Was he ever made rector or provincial??
He always keen to get back to the missions,that was where his life was ended.
One of the good guys
I was there from 1979-1984, the year it closed, Fr Fulvi was rector for the final year.
Hi Michael nice to hear from you.I would be interested to hear from someone who was there in the final years. When I was there things were quite boyant and the intake numbers were still quite good .Perhaps you could do a post on your take on the demise of the junior semminary. I am sure that I am not alone in my interest in what went on after we left.I think Fulvi would have made a good rector.
Ihope that you will keep following the blog .Thanks for the comments and interest
I was recruited by two priests, Fr. Grace and Fr. Colombo, who were overlapping as vocations directors while Fr. Colombo took over from Fr. Grace, who was going to Mirfield to start teaching in 1060. Fr. Colombo only did the job for a year before being replaced by the highly eccentric Fr. Enzo Tavanno. I think Fr. Russell may also have done the job in my time, although he seemed to spend all his time driving backwards and forwards between London and Mirfield.
Fr Tavano recruited me. I know someone else who was recruited by Fr Fraser.
Fulvi was bludgeoned to death a few years ago in the missions with a machete.
I was recruited by Fr. Grace.
A real nice guy and not one of the nasty ones.
Yes, he was.