Rod Gorton, married focolarino, left this world on November 14, 2013 following an accident while carrying out an act of love.
He was born in Boston, USA in 1933 and became acquainted with the ideal of unity in the 1960’s. His childhood was marked by the separation of his parents: “At six I found myself without a Dad and, because of the family environment, without God.” During this period he was helped by his passion for music. At twenty years of age he joined the Naval Academy and became an officer of the United States Navy. Navy regulations required him to attend a church on Sundays and this is where Rod first heard about God. He began to have questions: “Are these people all crazy? Or am I the crazy one?”
Following a long search and still plagued by doubts, he realized something had changed within him: “I believed!” But he soon discovered many contradictions in the new life, because he didn’t find anyone who took the Gospel seriously.
He became a Navy officer and began to travel around the world. He was attracted by the missionaries that he met in several countries and after four years joined a seminary to become a missionary priest. But he was still searching . . .
In a Living City magazine that he picked up by chance, he read some words written by Chiara Lubich: “If you want to win over a city to the love of Christ . . . gather your friends who share the same sentiments . . . unite with them in the name of Christ . . . promise one another constant mutual love . . .” Here was what he had been searching for his whole life. He also found there an invitation to a Mariapolis. At the Mariapolis he was powerfully struck by the sense of family he saw among the people: Blacks, whites, yellow, young, old, rich and poor. . . and the Gospel was the basis of it all, it was the basis for all these people.”
In November 1966 he left for the permanent Mariapolis in Loppiano where he spent six years as a member of the Gen Rosso Musical Band. He could play the guitar, trumpet and harmonica quite well. Referring to the Gospel promises he wrote: “There I found the hundredfold of fathers, brothers, homes and, even more, I came to know my God: Jesus in his abandonment. Jesus forsaken who [had transformed suffering into love] had illuminated every “why” in my life and in Him I also found the keyfor beginning a family of my own.” With a straightforwardness and simplicity that were so typical of him, Rod was continually giving of himself and being attentive to the needs of those around him. This was something that stayed with him throughout his life.
One day he met Mazia, from Austria. “With just a few words, we realized we both had the same flame burning in our hearts: to form a family for God.” He wrote to Chiara Lubich: “Because I first said yes to God, I can now say yes to Mazia.”
Rod and Mazia married in January of 1972 at the headquarters of the Movement in Rocca di Papa, Italy, during a meeting of married focolarini. Among the witnesses to their marriage were Igino Giordani, Spartaco Lucarini and Chiara who gave a Word of Life to their new family: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).
They had six children: Cielo, Clarence, Sara, Peter, Giovanna and Pina. Mazia and Rod were always available and generously giving of themselves for the countless activities in Loppiano, where they lived and worked mainly for the hundreds of families who spent time there. So many people were touched by their love and witness.
“Now we believe that Rod is immersed in the joy that never ends,” wrote Maria Voce, “certain that there Above he will continue to watch over Mazia and the children whom he so much loved.” We would like to think that he will also be watching over us as we continue to work as he did for universal brotherhood.