During the months of July and August many countries of the northern hemisphere were holding Mariapolises, an annual gathering of the Focolare Movement. For several days, young people, children and adults of every background gather together with the one aim of living an experience of brotherhood according to the universal values of the Gospel. In some countries the guideline of this gathering is the Golden Rule that invites us to treat others as we would like to be treated.
So it was in Algeria where the Mariapolis was held on July 4 – July 6 at the Ulisse Centre in Tlemcen with its intriguing title: “My neighbor is another me.”
The community of the Movement in Algeria is largely Muslim and the upcoming feast of Ramadan that requires painstaking preparations, led Mariapolis organizers to hold the event for only three days.
In spite of its brevity the days were lived even more intensely, enabling everyone to enter more deeply into the topic: love of neighbour in the spirituality of unity and in the Koran.
More and more, people who have attended other Mariapolises want to introduce it to their relatives and friends. For this reason some had to be turned away for lack of space.This year 140 people attended the Mariapolis, nearly all of them Muslims several places in Algeria including the Sahara. There were many families and very many young people. The contribution of the young was very considerable, both in the preparing the event and in giving witness to their adherence to this ideal of brotherhood.
The children and youngsters were also able to experience what love of neighbor means: “I understood all the good that love of neighbour can do;” “I felt loved the whole time” two of them commented.
Some of the families who had come to the Mariapolis for the first time were awestruck by this great idea of brotherhood: “It seemed to me that I was touching God with my hand during these days,” one person remarked. “I discovered how to love God, without complicating life,” “I found such great serenity here,” “You are my second family.” Many such comments expressed the thirst for a more fraternal lifestyle, which is so needed to ease the tensions, especially at this moment in time.
It was this concrete brotherly love that helped to form a community in this land, a community in which love and respect prevail over cultural diversity, traditions and religions.