A large crowd from Italy and other European countries attended the funeral of Pasquale Foresi in Rocca di Papa, Italy. Many others viewed it through live streaming, a testimony to the recognition and esteem for this prominent figure in the Focolare Movement.
Fr Foresi contributed much to the development of the Movement ever since its beginnings when Chiara Lubich asked him to be a close collaborator. Along with Igino Giordani she considered him a co-founder of the Movement. Now all three are resting in the small chapel of the International Centre, as a visible sign of a triad that continues to obtain Heavenly support to all those on earth who have taken up the path of unity that flows from Chiara’s charism.
Pasquale was born in Livorno, Italy, in 1929. Just turned fourteen, he ran away during the night to join a Resistance group who were fighting for a new Italy. During that period he began to entertain the idea of the priesthood. When he returned home, he joined the diocesan seminary in Pistoia where his family had moved, and then at the Collegio Capranica in Rome, so that he could attend the Gregorian University. But he was never fully satisfied with that life.
In the meantime, his father, the Honorable Palmiro Foresi, Member of the Italian Parliament, came to know Igino Giordani, who introduced him to Chiara Lubich. Profoundly struck by the radical Gospel life of this young woman from Trent, the Honorable Foresi hoped to find a way for her to meet his son, who was also in search of authentic Christianity. He invited her to visit Pistoia, to meet the Catholic elite. Unable to personally attend, Chiara sent Graziella De Luca, one of her first companions who arrived the day after the meeting was scheduled, because of a mis-communication. She was welcomed at the Foresi home by Pasquale, who was not all interested in knowing her, but out of curtesy offered to take her to a priest who was supposed to attend the meeting the day before. Along the way, always so as not to be impolite, he asked her a few questions about her spiritual experience and was profoundly struck, to the point that he asked to meet Chiara. At Christmas, 1949, Pasquale spend several days in Trent: it was such a blinding event that he went to live in the men’s focolare in Rome. There he felt confirmed that this was his vocation. He says: “It didn’t mean entering into a religious institute that was more beautiful or more holy than others, but it meant being part of a Christian religious and civil revolution that would renew the Church and the world.”
Chiara saw something very special in Pasquale and asked him to share in guiding the Movement with her.
Within his consecration to God in the focolare, Pasquale’s thirst for radicalness was satisfied and his call to the priesthood resurfaced. His task became even more specific. Because of his deep knowledge of theology, Fr Foresi was able to recognise the full theological and doctrinal extent of Chiara’s intuitions, and he was a qualified inlocutor in the rapport with the Church, especially when the nascent movement was under study by the Holy Office.
But the most telling role of Fr Foresi was the incarnation of works and activities: helping Chiara to turn into concrete works what the charism of unity had inspired her to do: the Focolare town of Loppiano, Italy; Città Nuova editorial group; the Sophia University Institute that began in Loppiano, in 2007.
“At one point,” he recounts, “I had the impression that I had done everything wrong in life. In particular, that those positive things that I was able to accomplishing were mine and not God’s.” This was his spiritual turmoil that God permits in great spirits for a deeper purification and detachment from everything that is not God. It was precisely during this period of spritual trial when it seemed his physical health had also been comprimised, that Chiara’s work was seeing more accomplishments in new concrete works, which she saw as taking place with Fr. Foresi at her side as co-president.
Packed with wisdom , his books Teologia della socialità and Conversazioni con i focolarini, have also been a source of inspiration for many other authors in the Movement.
Following the death of Chiara, the gentle support of Fr. Foresi was determining in the General Assemly’s charge to elect the president who be the first successor of the foundress.
Thank you, Fr. Foresi!