Alfredo Zirondoli was born in Carpi (Italy) on the 31st of May, 1926. If his father upheld his vivid intelligence as a child in view of a successful future, his mother, Albertina Violi (declared a Servant of God since 2007), would be a great support for the spiritual maturity of her child.
And success did come: he was just twenty three, and inspite of the difficulties brought on by the war, Alfredo became the youngest doctor in Italy, specializing in anesthesiology at the Bocconi University of Milan.
During this period, he meets Ginetta Calliari, one of the first young girls who followed Chiara Lubich, at the Card. Ferrari refectory in Milan. Conquered by the words of that young focolarina, he exclaimed: “If Jesus loved in this way, without waiting for anything in return, without waiting for the Father to reply… I want to live like this!”
In Pisa, where he was called to set-up the anesthesiology unit at the city’s University, Alfredo shares his new discovery of the Gospel. Umberto gets to know him at a conference: “He shared with us a fascinating series of episodes, fruit of his committment to living the Gospel in his daily relationships with patients, nurses, doctors. He opened up a horizon that completely changed my life”.
In contact with this new experience also changed the life of his mother Albertina who feels the call to bear witness that in unity, fruit of reciprocal love, there is a “presence” of Jesus that doesn’t only make us believe in Him but also makes us experience that He is alive.
Alfredo feels the call of God to leave everything to follow Him: in 1954 he enters the focolare. Because of his marian character, Chiara gives him the nickname Maras (from Mary Assumed into Heaven), the name with which he will later be known by many. In fact, he contributed to the life of the Focolare in France, Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom, Ireland and Algeria.
From 1966, together with Renata Borlone, he follows the growth of the rising international little city of Loppiano, helping to overcome every difficulty with a great passion. This is how some of the first members of the Gen Rosso musical band, born during those times precisely in Loppiano, remember him: “Maras knew about music very well. He would teach us how to listen to one another, how to harmonize each voice with that of the others without standing out. In reality, it was his way of teaching us how to live together, welcoming, serving, highlighting one another…”
And this is what he did with many. He was always characterized by his rather unique ability of transmitting spiritual realities with light and wisdom that involved and fascinated. He had a long line of countless friends, of brothers from different social stata and from the most varied spiritual experiences. The true link was composed of that being together in a relationship with God that has been renewed and purified by life’s events. He knew how to transmit the fascinating adventure of being Christians.
After Loppiano, in 1981 Chiara asks him to contribute to starting a similar experience in Montet, Switzerland.
On January 7, 2000, Alfredo tells Chiara of the discovery of a serious illness. He immediately receives her support: “Jesus in our midst will continue to increase in you the certainty that everything is His love!”.
“Take advantage of all the last moments that there are in life”, he wrote shortly before he died. And he continued: “I did many things in my life, I went to many parts of the world, but the only thing that counts is that I tried never to expect anything, but only to always be the first to love”.
He left for Heaven on December 31, 2008. From then on, we have continued to receive many certificates of gratitude to him from all over the world, for what his advice and his witness of life has meant for many.