An entire book could be written about the small experiences of evangelical love that were spread across the days of Emile Ifanger (nicknamed Milo) in his home city of Geneva, Switzerland. One of his friends recalled: “He guarded presidents and popes, but he also helped the paumés, those considered misfits, to reinsert themselves into society.” He was a member of the Reformed Church of Geneva, and with his life he gave a big push to ecumenical dialogue, taking to heart the words of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn. 17:21).
Always rather distant from the Church, Milo met the Focolare Movement in 1975, more than anything to please his wife, Janet, along with some other friends. Nevertheless, he was quite struck by the challenge of contributing towards the building of a more fraternal world through the practice of the mutual love requested by Jesus. He decided to make this the cornerstone of his spiritual life.
He became involved in the Focolare community of Geneva and together with other members of the Reformed and Catholic Churches, began offering concrete assistance to their neighbours, and meeting regularly to share experiences, successes and failures, sorrows and doubts. . . It was a friendship that continually deepened, nourished by glad moments of laughter and playing, and moments of prayer renewed by love and founded on the Word of God.
Because of his many talents Milo eventually became professionally in charge of various sections of the Reformed Church in Geneva and of ecumenism in his city. Milo never acted as a “boss” but preferred to love concretely and without distinctions every person he met. We cite his big involvement in 1982 in helping an elderly woman to greet John Paul II personally, when he visited Geneva.
Milo lived life intensely. Even when he began to have health problems because of his growing age, interiorly he welcomed everything that happened as God’s love and entrusted everything to God.
With great simplicity he shared the ups and downs of his daily life, convinced that in this way he was increasing the love and unity in the world.
Martin Hoegger, Pastor of the Cantone of Vaud, said of him on the day of his funeral: “Milo left in the way he always wished to live: seeking the good of others.” A focolarino from Geneva echoed his words: “The passion for unity pervaded him.”
Many Catholics and members of the Reformed Church who were with him at the Temple of Malagnou gave their testimonies, as well as many others who continue to walk along the path of dialogue that Milo has traced out with countless small and concrete acts of love each day of his life.