“Whether we were talking about the most personal things, cleaning a fish, waxing the floors or playing football with friends, when Miguel was around everything became an unforgettable moment of eternity.” This is how Angel remembers his time with Miguel, his schoolmate and later fellow focolarino at a focolare in Madrid, Spain.
Miguel Angel was born in Mesones, Spain, in 1953. In 1961 he moved to Madrid and soon became totally involved in the protests of 1968. When he was 15 years old he met the focolare in Madrid. He was fascinated by the enthusiasm of one of his teachers.
The more he entered into the Ideal of unity, the more he fell in love with it. In 1971 he wrote to Chiara Lubich: “I really feel that God has chosen me for something great!” And in 1974 he confided to her: “Having a relationship with Jesus is a continual struggle and it’s beautiful, because I sometimes succeed. Yesterday, when I went to bed I tried to place myself in front of Him. It turned out to be one of those nights when you can say: ‘Good, now I can sleep’. I saw all of the day’s failures and all of the things I did well – all of it within this deep and intimate relationship with Jesus, which fills me and leaves a great joy in my soul.”
He realized that God was calling him to follow Him in the path of the focolare. When he turned twenty he spent a period of formation in the Focolare town of Loppiano. In 1982 he was assigned to the focolare in Bamenda, Cameroon. It was quite a jump: “I felt like God had grabbed me as you would a potato plant. Then he beat me a bit in order to shake away the soil among the roots. Then, cleansed of so many small things: familiar places, rhythm of life, love for the job. . . . I felt like I was all for Him.”
In 1978 he moved to Onitsha, Nigeria, to open a new focolare in Biafra. The climate there was humid and the life exhausting. Once the focolarini were robbed by a gang of bandits. Nevertheless, Miguel continued to see God’s love in everything. Following the theft he writes: “They took away everything from us. Only God has remained.” And he never lost his contagious joy: “I’m more Nigerian now! I still have at least one shoe!”
In 1992 he was in the Nigerian village of Igbariam to work for an agricultural project. It wasn’t easy for him to give up teaching, but Miguel never lost his enthusiasm. “My hands and kidneys are aching by dint of the heavy digging and hoeing. But you can also learn many things while hoeing!”
On February 3, 1998, Miguel was visiting Onitsha. There were many occasions to love. He visited a couple of friends with whom there had been a misunderstanding. He visited an artisan friend, asking about his daughters who were ill. He had lunch with some other friends where they joked and discussed about who would win the Spain-Nigeria football match. On his way back home, perhaps because of the intense heat, or fatigue, he had a terrible automobile accident. He was rushed to hospital and departed for Heaven at around 18:45.
When his coffin arrived in Igbariam, he was welcomed with all the honours due to someone very dear. “When we learned he was dead,” writes one young man who had met Miguel when the young man was released from prison, one of us cried: “My God, and now who will make us smile? But I know that now many have discovered the treasure that lay hidden in Miguel.” It is a treasure that many will now cherish and share.