Serving Legates and the least of God’s people
Ann Arbor Chaplain Fr. Fortunato Turati spends his life caring for the elderly disabled . . .
Fr. Fortunato Turati, SdC
Ann Arbor Chapter
Ordained in 1967 in his native Italy, Servants of Charity priest Fortunato Turati, 71, has worked in America since 1968 — mostly at the St. Louis Center for the mentally and physically disabled. His dream is to realize the Center’s plan to build a village for the elderly disabled in order to “give peace to parents and family worrying how these children, loved by God, will be taken care of in their old age.” He often preaches in Ann Arbor-area parishes and has served as Legatus chaplain since 2007.
Tell us about your call to the priesthood.
When I was in the fourth or fifth grade, I already had the desire in my heart. I remember telling my mom. She told me she was planning on me helping to pay the bills, because in Italy back then, many kids went to work after the fifth grade. Plus my father died when I was six, leaving mom with four children to provide for. But she told me that if the Lord was calling me, then I should go and become a good priest and the Lord would provide.
I joined the Servants of Charity because I was impressed with one of their priests who worked with us as children. His jolly spirit and love of the Lord inspired me.
How did you become acquainted with Legatus?
Five or six years ago the chapter president, Tim Patton, called and said they needed a priest to say Mass at their meeting. I don’t know why he contacted me. Maybe because I’m a religious and help out in area parishes, so I’m all over the place and people know me.
So I said Mass and stayed for dinner. Two days later Tim asked me to become chaplain. I didn’t know too much about Legatus, but I knew that these were good people who love the Lord, and good people inspire you to be a good priest.
What impact has Legatus had on the Lansing diocese?
People belonging to Legatus live the faith and bring it wherever they go. It’s hard to measure their impact with a ruler. But two of the Legates are on the board of the St. Louis Center, and others are involved with many initiatives connected with the faith, especially with helping children.
How would you like to see the chapter progress?
Membership is not progressing as much as we want. The economy seems be having a bad effect.
Living in this economy, I feel their stress. I tell them to love and trust in God and love their families, to abandon themselves in the Lord. Sometimes I hear confessions and give spiritual direction, too.
What’s really important is that when we get together every month it’s a reminder of who we are and how much we can change society for the good with our faith, love, peace, and joy in the Lord.
You have a vocation, of course. Any avocations?
I like to read, especially conversion stories. Right now I’m reading St. Francis de Sales’ Treatise on the Love of God. A wonderful guy, St. Francis — one of the favorite saints of St. Louis Guanella, founder of the Servants of Charity.
Any lessons you’ve learned as a priest that are especially apt for business leaders?
To trust in the good Lord and know He loves you. Sometimes when we come to a point of difficulty, we need to remember that God loves us, however hard we may find that.
Read the Bible. Remember those words of God according to the prophet Isaiah that “you’re precious in my eyes and I love you.” This approach works for everybody — for business people, for everybody.