Dr Anthony Grugni has been associated with THE TEENAGER for nearly three decades in the capacity as the youth counsellor. As THE TEENAGER TODAY enters its 56th year of uninterrupted publication, we make an attempt to discover the man behind one of our most popular columns.
Antonio Grugni, an Italian by birth, set foot on Indian soil in 1976, as a cardiologist and leprosy specialist, and later joined the priesthood in 1989. He came here with a dream, a mission, and till this day, Dr Grugni is zealously engaged in the accomplishment of his dream of serving the Indian masses.
After working as a cardiologist for eight years in a hospital in Legnano (Italy), he came to the conclusion that “I could not go on like this. I had a comfortable life with a stable and well-paid job. One day my superiors asked me to come to India and I felt like I heard a bell, a calling. I said ‘yes’ immediately. And I have never regretted it; on the contrary, for me every day is a celebration. I realised my dream; otherwise I would have been an old doctor in Italy, full of regrets.”
Dr Grugni worked among the leprosy patients in the slums of Mumbai for the Lok Seva Sangh (Society for the Good of the People). Today he lives in Warangal, Telangana, where in 2005 he founded the Sarva Prema Welfare Society (Association of Love for Universal Well-Being). With a group of lay collaborators, he treats and rehabilitates poor and disabled children and people afflicted by leprosy, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. These activities are not carried out within deliberately built structures, but visiting patients and their families through a project funded by the Indian Ministry of Health. “The Sarva Prema not only takes care of the sick, but the whole family in crisis,” says Dr Grugni.
Dr Grugni’s long stay in India and his association with the young people of India, made him realize that most of the problems of youth are identical — and they often revolve around ‘relationships’ — not just between parents and children but also around those of the opposite sex, and that’s where THE TEENAGER reached out to him in the early 90s.
Through Ask Dr Grugni, his column in THE TEENAGER TODAY, he has chosen a beautiful way of reaching out to the youth, listening to their troubles, understanding their insecurities and fears and presenting them with alternatives so that they can take better decisions.
As he is confronted with a wide array of problems pertaining to ‘love’, he advises patience till teenagers grow up to be sufficiently mature and self-reliant. On the other hand, while it is advisable not to rush to conclusions, it is also essential to courageously stand by one’s feelings honouring one’s commitment to the other person.
Besides counselling, Dr Grugni loves to play the piano, read books and listen to Western classical music. He has also authored four popular books which are bestsellers.
Dr Grugni has a solution to everybody’s problems. But does he ever cry, too? “Yes, whenever I am hurt badly, I do cry. This usually happens when I find it difficult to casually accept the misery, pain and tears all around me,” he confesses. According to him, “Whenever one is depressed, one should simply kneel down and pray. If the Higher Being has created us, He will also definitely care for us. Trust Him.”
Books by Dr Anthony Grugni
Available at Better Yourself Books (stpaulsbyb.com)