On March 8th, 1956, young Rita Agnese Petrozzi felt a calling from God to enter a religious order, leaving her impoverished beginnings, her small Italian town, and her family behind. Arriving at the convent of the Sisters of Charity in Borgaro, Turin, Rita became Sr. Elvira, where she served the poor and served as a cook for her fellow nuns for 28 years.
Sr. Elvira developed a strong affinity for young people during her tenure in Borgaro, especially those who were in the throes of addiction. She watched them wandering aimlessly in the streets and in the piazze. She understood that these young people were suffering from deeply rooted pain and were seeking to assuage this pain by numbing themselves through drugs and alcohol. Sr. Elvira was called by God to help!
On July 16th, 1983, in a dilapidated house in the Italian countryside, Sr. Elvira(now known as Mother Elvira) established the first Comunita’ Cenacolo, where young people, suffering from addictions, would come to live in a humble Christian environment. Here they would be transformed by prayer, hard work, personal sacrifice, and Christ’s ineffable love and mercy.
Today, the Comunita’ Cenacolo (Cenacle Community) runs 70 houses in Europe, Central America, and the United States, serving the needs of this vulnerable and marginalized population, by giving their lives meaning and purpose. Mother Elvira is truly an example of how one person, listening to her call from the Lord, can change the world for good! Brava, Mother Elvira! May we all learn by your example!