Austria/3: 50 years of unity

On the occasion of the 50⁰ anniversary of the Focolari in Austria, two meetings were held with the community, a few kilometres away from Vienna. In the conclusion of her speech, Maria Voce wishes liberty to all.

Finally, in the afternoon of Saturday, 19th, the much awaited meeting was held with Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti, to celebrate the big feast for all. The event was held, a few kilometres away from the capital, at the Multiversum of Schwechat, a modern multi-functional structure that hosts concerts, cultural and sports events, and fairs. Around 700 persons attended from the nine regions of Austria.

In their initial greeting, Maria Magerl and Andreas Amann, who are responsible on a national level for the Focolare Movement, expressed their joy, and most of all, their gratitude to God for Chiara Lubich and the spirituality of unity that have given to many a new profoundness and fullness in their lives. They expressed gratitude also to all those who during these fifty years have contributed, each one in his own place, to the development of the Movement. They were particularly glad that after, in some cases, years of absence, there were present at the celebration many “persons who had built and accompanied them on the journey in the past”.

During the first part of the meeting, the fundamental stages of the story of the Focolare Movement in Austria were reviewed, through historical photos and filmed witness, as though going through a family album. Up to the point, in 2001, when Chiara had passed 10 days in Austria, and had given important indications on the fields of action that the focolari community had to be committed. A video film with extracts from her speech at the Mayors Congress “1000 cities for Europe” (Innsbruck) revived memories of this special event in many of those present. This flash back was concluded with the memory, full of gratitude, of many members of the Movement, of different age and vocation, who have already reached the heavenly homeland.

The Focolare Movement in Austria “today” then followed, beginning with a presentation on the permanent Mariapolis “Giosi” and the Mariapolis Centre Am Spiegeln. From the “family treasures”, the experience of Reinhard Domig was presented, who in August 2008, was a victim of a violent robbery in his postal office, and who forgave his aggressor. There were various experiences of “dialogue” within the Catholic Church, and contacts with Christians of other Churches, and also with faithful of other faiths (mostly Muslims) and with persons without religious convictions, as the several years’ contacts with members of the Communist party. It is mostly a dialogue of life, sharing and participating in common action, such as projects for the integration of those in need, and pedagogy. Other initiatives at a more cultural level are those in the realms of economy, ecology, sport, and communication.

The young people presented the Social day for the homeless, aged, and children of refugees, the worldwide relay race for peace Run4unity, and the actions to allow ten Indonesian youths to participate at the coming Genfest in Budapest. All this is done to contribute to fraternity in Austria, a Country that is always becoming more pluralistic.

At this point, many wished to know Maria Voce personally, and she therefore gave a brief greeting. The feast then continued on stage with songs, games and artistic numbers; followed by a rich buffet.

2012-05-19-austria-festa-50anni-emmaus-saluta-walter-baier-cleaschiffmann-10On the 20th, Sunday morning, a new appointment was held at the Multiversum, with the more committed members of the community. The programme included  a Mass animated by songs from the gen, followed by a dialogue meeting with Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti. The replies to the questions were simple, illuminating, encouraging. The questions were made by youths and adults on themes regarding the witness to offer in today’s challenges so as to have more effective impact in the various spheres of society.

The joy of all exploded in a great applause, and the president of the Focolare concluded with this prospect: “The notion that ours is a life and not an organisation has over the years always accompanied me, and made me understand what it means to be children of God. I do not know whether I am being bold, but I would like to wish you liberty which means: be free also from the desire to be efficient, from the need to do things well, from the memory of things that did not happen as you would have wished, from the historical situation. Be free, to have the happiness of being able to say yes to God, and know that He awaits your collaboration, to make of the “ideal” Austria and example of true, profound liberty; it is a freedom that comes from recognising and accepting our limitations, from thinking that in spite of these limitations we can do good (this is more difficult!), believing that God works beyond them and with them. God acts if we say yes to him. He brings fire, that which is mentioned in the Word of Life of this month, which is drawing to a close, but we still have a few days to continue the blaze. This is my wish for you: that you are free to ignite the fire!”

By our correspondent Oreste Paliotti

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