On October 23, 1988 Chiara Lubich was awarded the Grand Feast for the Peace of Augsburg prize. Twenty five years later, on 20th September, 250 people met in the main hall of the prestigious Centre of the Lutheran Church in Augsburg. The audience included many personalities from civil society and the Church, members from the network of Christian communities affiliated with Together for Europe, as well as members of the Focolare Movement. Doing the honours was Lutheran Evangelical Deaconess, Susanne Kasch who gave a warm welcome declaring herself “proud that you have come to us.”
The purpose of the gathering was to assess the progress that has been made in 25 years. “Has the Focolare founder’s vision for our city remained a mere prophecy, or is there evidence that in the past 25 years some concrete steps towards unity and universal brotherhood have been made?” This question was the central theme of the event.
On October 23, 1988, Chiara Lubich had highlighted the importance of the city of Augsburg as the city of peace and had encouraged everyone to look higher in bringing ahead the Augsburg Settlement (between Lutherans and Catholics) by aiming for Augsburg Unity.
Following an exhaustive report on the Focolare’s concrete involvement in the social, political and ecumenical field in Augsburg, Mayor Dr. Kurt Gribl spoke: “The very fact that we are all here asking ourselves how much we have corresponded to the vision expressed by Chiara Lubich is a sign that she was an example. . . In reality, in 1988 Chiara Lubich was only half way in her activity. It is enough to consider that in 1996 she went on to receive the UNESCO Peace Prize, and in 1998 the European Human Rights Award. Augsburg has indeed recognized and appreciated her talent for peace.” And he asked: “Have we succeeded in bringing about what she desired, a civil life that is based on Christian and religious life?”
The Mayor listed what had been accomplished towards the promotion of unity in the city over the past 25 years and especially brought out the great openness that has been shown to refugees who find Augsburg to be their second home. Currently people from 150 different lands are assisted and supported by a vast network of specialists in the immigration sector.
Several groups from the city, who are involved in social work, shared spontaneously regarding their work in welcoming and accompanying recent refugees from Syria. This experience regarding hospitality and welcome was very pleasing to the Mayor who concluded by saying: “Chiara Lubich’s vision, her message, fell on fertile ground. Therefore, Augsburg: a city journeying towards unity. A journey that is always unfolding; and may we never fail to be on the front lines of this journey.”