The Kalimpong focolare in West Bengal, India, opened September 9 when three focolarini moved to the house offered by Monsignor Stephen Lepcha, bishop of the Darjeeling diocese. At an altitude of 1,250 meters above sea level, Kalimpong is at the center of the diocese. The other major cities (Darjeeling, Kurseong, Siliguri, Sikkim) can all be reached within a couple of hours, as can the countries of Nepal and Bhutan.
“Ever since the beginning of June we had been traveling to that region to search for a house that would be good for a focolare centre,” says Vivek from India. “The bishop offered us the one in Kalimpong. “While we were waiting the past few months, there were a number of opportunities to meet groups of young people in schools and parishes, families, priests, men and women religious, as well as others involved in interreligious dialogue. We offered everyone the spirituality of unity that we try to live. “The bishop, in fact, considers the Focolare Movement, along with his own spirituality, a ‘need of the hour’ to renew the Christian community in his diocese and the fabric of relationships in local society.”
“There was a lot of hospitality as soon as we opened the focolare,” adds Rey, who is from the Philippines. “Both our Focolare community in India and local people filled us to the brim, with goods of every kind for the focolare and food for the first few days. For us it was a sign of God blessing this new project.” The night before inaugurating the new focolare house, the women focolarine of Dehli brought rosaries that had been blessed by Pope Francis. “Having received these presents, one of us thought of giving his to someone else. Another of us did not like that idea, and the situation became a bit tense. What to do? We certainly could not begin the focolare the next day if there was not unity and harmony among us. “So stayed together past midnight in order to clear up the misunderstanding. In this way we reestablished unity and the spiritual presence of Jesus in our midst, which is worth much more than all the various preparations, even if those need to be done well too.”
During the inauguration, the Apostolic Nuncio said he hoped “that the new focolare house may be an instrument in God’s hands to fulfill the ideals and the spirituality of the Focolare Movement.” The bishop gave his blessing to the close to 50 people present, emphasizing the focolare’s contribution in the field of interfaith dialogue and its witness to the Gospel through life. In January two of the focolarini were invited by Monsignor Vincent Aind, of the nearby diocese of Bagdogra, to present some spiritual points at a retreat for priests. “The theme was around Jesus’ public ministry, particularly his attitude toward foreigners. It was an opportunity to propose our dynamic way of building relationships in society based on the Gospel.”
“These last few months we have been giving training sessions to students on leadership and developing character in schools that are nearby and in the surrounding hills,” write Vivek, Rey and Jonathan Lara, who is also from the Philippines. “Lately we’ve been asked to give some training sessions for teachers. There are many opportunities to offer our spirituality to youth and children through these sessions. “It is a challenge for us to understand together how best to proceed in bringing the light of the Gospel to these fertile mountain lands.”