David belongs to Catholic Action. He is 24 years old and claims that Sophia is one of the most correct choices he has ever made. As student representative, he presented his colleagues. Currently 80 students enrolled in specialization and doctoral courses at the Institute.
Vanessa is from Lebanon. She has known the Focolare Movement since she was a child, but at a certain point her search for the meaning of life and for God became deep concerns. At the suggestion of a focolarino friend, she decided to attend Sophia in a last attempt to rediscover that God whose existence she was now doubting. Sophia turned out to be quite demanding, but there she also realized that she was not alone in her search.
Twenty-four year-old philosophy graduate Emanuele from Italy, has been at Sophia University for two years. He explains how Sophia allows anyone, regardless of whether or not they belong to the Focolare Movement, to have access to the basic foundations of the charism of unity that stem from that unique experience of Chiara Lubich in the summer of 1949 when she received intuitions from the Lord concerning the Work of Mary that would come to life in the years that followed. “At Sophia,” he says, “the universal dimensions of Chiara’s charism come to be understood by people who do not belong to the Movement.”
Lorenzo describes himself as an “abnormal” student, since he’s already 47 years-old and has a stable job. He discovered Sophia when he was invited to speak in a debate where the Economy of Communion had been mentioned. This new proposal for the economy put everything into question for him. He thinks it could be the same for many other people like him who have already graduated or begun careers.
Lia, who in her second year at Sophia, posed a question to the President of the Focolare and Vice Chancellor of the University Institute, a question about the educational approach used at Sophia which joins study to life. Maria Voce responded: “A difficulty can be seen as an obstacle or as a challenge that can take you a step ahead. The challenge of living together with others allows you to bear witness to universal brotherhood that is the foundational idea of the Movement and of Sophia. How can one ever give witness to mutual understanding, overcoming different visions, if not through concrete experience? You came here because you were drawn by a project that uses a different approach, one that has fascinated you; otherwise, you would have gone somewhere else. This project is rooted in an extraordinary light, in a ‘dream’ that comes true through much effort. You have been chosen for this and it is an important experience for you. You are experiencing the construction of brotherhood. The effort should not frighten you, nor can you try to make the experience easier, because you are dealing with something very great.” Everyone – including the president – was aware of the effort involved. She herself stated: “We need to be open to believing that we are rooted in a dream that began in God, was transmitted through Chiara, and this demands seriousness from those who wish to make it come true. It is a great challenge for great souls.”
By Aurora Nicosia
See Flickr photo gallery