Margaret Linard

She was the first Australian focolarina and she was a protagonist in the beginnings of the Focolare Movement in Oceania. We remember Margaret who is more present now than ever before. (21 November 1941- 5 March 2010)

“From the time I was really small I was very conscious that I had only one life to live and I was certain of one thing – that I didn’t want to waste it. Somehow I sensed that I wanted to spend my life living for a really great ideal, something in which I would find fulfillment.”

These are the words of Margaret Linard, the first Australian focolarina, whose first anniversary of her departure for heaven falls on the 5th of March 2011.

During Chiara Lubich’s visit to Melbourne in 1982

Margaret was born in Melbourne on 21st November 1941. She was a teacher, a specialist in linguistics and a journalist, and she met the Focolare Movement in 1967 in Melbourne. “The meeting with this Ideal changed my life completely, and it was through the first Mariapolis in Australia that I discovered Jesus.”

Margaret was an enterprising woman with a strong faith; she was intelligent, free and possessed innate good-humour and wit,  typical of most Australians. Throughout her life she was guided by the discovery she had made in that Mariapolis and she was instrumental in developing the Focolare Movement throughout Oceania, for which she was co-responsible, from 1984-2002.

In 1982, Chiara Lubich visited Melbourne and before her departure she said, “Take courage then Margaret. Let’s go ahead! I’m really depending on you.” Margaret gave proof of Chiara’s trust in her throughout these years through the example of her life given totally to God, to the Church and to humanity.

With Chiara during the Zone Delegates Meeting in Rome

One thing I have learnt over these years is that great things done without love are in fact very small and insignificant; but small things done with love are great,” she affirmed. This was Margaret’s attitude throughout her 17 year-long battle with cancer which she endured with courage and without ever coming short of her commitment to live for universal brotherhood. She was sustained by an inner strength drawn from her relationship with God.

You could say that Margaret always downplayed her illness. In fact what predominated in her was the joy of living life to the full in order to fulfil her vocation to bring about unity.

Margaret Linard and Joseph Poidimani with the King of Futuna in 2004

Silvana Veronesi, one of the first companions of Chiara, who was with Margaret in her final days, testified to this during the funeral Mass held in Melbourne: “I have known Margaret since the 1970s. She always irradiated so much joy! Many things could have hindered this joy – the difficulties encountered, the periods of illness – but she always managed to maintain and to communicate to everyone the joy of living for God whom she discovered as Love and in whom she trusted completely.”

It was in this way that Margaret was able to fully accomplish that phrase from the Scriptures which Chiara herself gave to her as a compass for her life’s journey and which she lived even more intensely in her final moments: “Arise, make haste, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!” (Ct 2,13).

Read also Margaret’s story published in New City Magazine: “A Burning Desire to Love”

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