‘Hi! I’m Jolanta, an Orthodox gen from Lithuania. I’ve only been a member of the Focolare Movement for a short time, but have always believed in God and since I was small I’ve lived as part my Church community. This was how it was until the ‘stormy’ period of my teenage years, when I was put off because there were no other young people in my group. I stopped being active and went off on my own way.
‘In Lithuania most people are Catholic, but I am Orthodox and Russian. A friend of mine, knowing that I wanted to give myself to others for God, invited me to get to know his ‘Catholic friends who I think you’ll like.’ I immediately felt at home with them and this feeling grew when I went to the Mariapolis, a meeting of several days with people of all ages, where I found a special atmosphere of unity and mutual love. When I told someone this, I was told: ‘You ought to live it in Church as well.’ I smiled. But it seemed impossible to me.
‘I helped organize a “Youth Café” with other girls, the gen, who share the spirituality of unity. We had theme evenings, ran projects and alternative amusements, which stimulated young people’s commitment, creativity and sociability. In one of the evenings we invited some young people from the Orthodox community and so we started rebuilding a relationship with them. It all went so well that some of them even took part in Run4Unity as well. After this I got a letter from the person in charge of the Orthodox community, inviting me to take part in their activities and share the what I’d done with the young people of the Focolare Movement, because they didn’t have this kind of experience. I was really moved by the letter and straight away said yes.
‘I started going to the youth meetings and I was asked to give a hand with the children’s summer camp. To be able to do this I stopped looking for work, and actually I even turned down several job offers. I set off feeling a bit nervous, because I didn’t have any organizational experience, but I did have an objective: to build bridges of unity. Now I thank God because among all the organizers it was like one big family. That was when I found I actually had three “families”: my physical family at home, the people in my Church and the Focolare Movement. I’m an only child and I was always a bit lonely, but now I have loads of true brothers and sisters.
‘After the summer camp I became more involved with the life of the Orthodox community, and now I go to lots of things, and I even help running some of them. I’ll tell you a secret: we plan to organize a Christmas party, which ought to be in the middle of January (because in our Church we celebrate Christmas on 7 January). This will be a great chance for Orthodox young people and the youth of the Focolare Movement to unite their forces and get an excellent party going.
‘Having come to know this spirituality has given me back my trust in God’s will and when you have this trust, miracles happen every single day. Chiara Lubich used to say: “Life is made up of present moments, and these alone matter for whoever wants to get something done.” ’