Born in Luxemburg, at a young age Ketty was paralysed in one leg as a result of polio. This restricted her in many ways (in terms of physical activity, work and family life), but it also gave her a deep sensitivity for the suffering and the marginalized. For this reason when, at the age of 31, she met the Focolare, she immediately felt drawn to its radical Gospel life.
Chiara Lubich herself encouraged Ketty in a letter, saying: ‘As you have experienced, suffering is the greatest love that God can show us… you’ll see, Ketty, that the grace and strength of God will not be lacking for you. Jesus said, “The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these” (Jn 14:12)’ and, to inspire Ketty to be like a tree blossoming in God’s Love, Chiara suggested she could use the name ‘Alfi’, short for ‘albero fiorito’, which in Italian is a tree blossoming.
The idea of putting the Gospel into practice in her daily life was a revelation for Ketty that transformed her and shaped her day by day. She often repeated, ‘I’ve found the way!’ From 1972 to 1981 the focolare house moved away from Luxemburg, but led by Ketty, the first Volunteer for God of the Focolare Movement in the Grand Duchy, the climate of mutual love in the local community spread to involve many other people!
She stirred up this life often by doing crazy things, such as when in 1977 Ketty took a group of people 150 kilometres to Brussels airport just to have the chance of meeting Chiara who was on her way to London. ‘I wasn’t able to greet Chiara because of the crowd,’ one of the people on the trip said, ‘but I was incredibly struck by Ketty’s care for each person in every moment.’
Despite her disability, her commitments in the bank, and the effects of a serious accident in 1974 that gave her powerful and continuous pain, Ketty never spared herself.
And so when, in 1987, she found she had two tumours, it was a severe blow. She said, ‘It was a shock for me.’ It was not easy, but she understood that she had to carry on trusting in God, ‘I repeated my yes to God and I didn’t worry about a thing.’ From that point on ‘I didn’t pray any more than before, nor did I do more things for love than before (my limitations were always the same). The thing that did change was a greater union with God and, because of that, a greater love for others.’
Many people give witness to how, leaving her room, their hearts were filled with joy and the single desire: to live the Gospel radically.
It was like this until the time of her passing to Heaven on 6 April 1990, at the age of 52.
One day thinking of all the people she had known, Ketty said, ‘When I am Above, I won’t leave any of them in peace until they have taken all the steps God wants them to!’
Numerous and wonderful testimonies about her keep on coming and confirm she’s doing precusely this.