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Saturday, August 24, 2013
In Sassello, Italy, the birthplace of the young Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, priests, seminarians and young people spent a week together reflecting on the light of the charism of unity. They shared their experience with us.

The week-long retreat, entitled “In the Footsteps of Chiara Luce”, organised by the Gen Seminarians (Gens) of the Focolare, concluded with a joyful international feast at the Sassello parish church (August 13, 2013 – August 16, 2013).  Twenty Gens, 15 priests and 20 seminarians and youths took part in the event. They travelled from 13 countries (one from the Mariana Islands in Oceania) to spend ten days ‘In the Footsteps of Chiara Luce.’” For some it was the first encounter with the Focolare Movement.”

The president and co-president of the Focolare Movement welcomed the young people with a written message: “Dear Gens, It would take forever to share with you all that our young people are doing everywhere in the world. Together we have set out to be living gospels and to give witness through mutual love that God is the most beautiful, fulfilling and liberating ideal that any young person could meet, regardless of their calling.”

The 10 days together at Sassello were like a Mariapolis. There were also families with children, grandparents and some nuns. We attended Mass together and prayed the Rosary in our different languages after supper. A few times we had moments of common meditation and reflection. A strong relationship was formed with the Sassello parish. At the concluding mass on Sunday, there was an exchange of gifts.

The best part was the close moments spent together with the parents of Chiara Luce Badano, first in their home where they welcomed us with open hearts and told us about little Chiara’s life until the age of nine. Then they came a second time to visit us and share with us about Chiara Luce’s life and her relationship with the Focolare Movement. With them came Chicca and Franz Coriasco, friends of the young Blessed, who told us about her life as a Gen. We all realized that we could never really know her unless we went to the source of her holiness: the charism of Chiara Lubich.

Also touching were the testimonies of people who had lived with Chiara Luce: Giuliano, the barman at the coffee bar stressed her normality; Aldina, instead, led us to understand the secret through which Chiara Luce had managed to live those “25 minutes,” that is, her ongoing ‘yes’ to Jesus Forsaken, when she was informed that her illness was serious and irreversible. But the fact is that from when she was a child, a Gen 3, she had already heard talk of Jesus forsaken and she had always tried to live each moment of her life saying to Jesus ‘For you, Jesus’ or ‘if you want it, I want it too, Jesus.’”   

Some impressions; “This was a marvelous experience. Not only have I deepened my knowledge of the extraordinary figure of Chiara Luce, but I’ve also sensed the universal breadth of the church united by the personal love of Jesus for each one of us. I want to enter more deeply into the spirituality of the Movement, but also to transmit what I’ve taken in during these days” (A seminarian).

“I’ve grown in the faith and here I’ve learned that it’s important to begin again” (A young man who is “searching”).

“This was an enriching experience;” a “launching pad for a new take-off;” “normality is a path for becoming saints.”

By Alexander Duno

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