“I was my father’s favourite daughter,” Mary recounts, “since I was the firstborn. When I was eight years old, I watched my parents argue and fight. One day my father forced my brothers and me to get into his car and leave our mother behind. But she stopped us. I helplessly watched so many terrible things that he did to my mother. Then he left. From that day that I saw my mother and father together, I completely rejected my father.
I tried to convince myself that he didn’t exist anymore. It was a dramatic choice that haunted me during the years of my adolescence. Growing up without a father had an influence on the way I treated other people, especially men. For several years I studied at an exclusive school for girls. When I went to university, it wasn’t easy for me to be with the boys.
Coming to know the Focolare Movement, I was invited to go to the little town of Loppiano, Italy, where there are people who try to live mutual love and have respect and trust for one another.
It was the month when everyone there was trying to live that Gospel sentence: “Forgive seventy times seven times” (Mt. 18:21). Reading the commentary by Chiara Lubich, I suddenly realized that my heart was filled with hostility towards my father. But it was only when I decided to also begin living it, that in my heart I felt the “bitterness” slowly transforming into pardon and I felt a strong desire to see my father.
When I returned to Manila, even though there was still an open wound, I found the strength to telephone my father and to arrange a meeting. We spoke for several hours, just the two of us, in a restaurant. I was happy and at peace, even though my mother didn’t agree with our meeting. But she left me free to meet him.
I continue to communicate with Dad, even if it’s not so often. But any time I have an opportunity to meet him, I try to make him feel my merciful love.
Always aware that Mum and Dad will never be able to get together again because he already has another family, I feel that, through my forgiveness, we all remain united. And this fills me with peace.”
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