Right behind him are 180 young people from the Focolare Movement, representing their peers from around the world. There are all sorts of faces, colours and physical traits. Three young people standing in the first line, introduce themselves. Beside them stands Michel who comes from Mali. He met the Focolare in his country and, ever sinde then, he says that his life changed. František from the Czech Republic and Maria from Portugal explain: “We’re from more than 40 countries. We’re here from all the continent to better understand who we are as young people in today’s world and what the challenges are that lie before us as we try to build a culture of fraternity. Behind them sits a Muslim named Amin, and next to him a young Buddhist woman, Kioko. All of them are at work on a truly global project, the upcoming Genfest in Mmanila (6-8 July 2018). This will be the first Genfest to be held outside of Europe.
Why in Manila, in Asia? An Italian named Giuseppe answers: “Asia has 60% of the world’s young people, and so it represents the future, looking towards the future to universal brotherhood. The title of the event is Beyond All Borders, and that’s one of the greatest challenges that we have to face, beginning from our personal limitations: prejudices, social and cultural differences…
It’s quite a challenge in a land hit by a wave of endemic violence, by the social exclusion of many sections of the population and by an unprecedented political crisis. “We want to make the borders not a way for dividing us, but an opportunity to unite us.”
It’s that great idea that was launched by Chiara Lubich in 1987, the idea she bequeathed to the new generations. That year, the Focolare foundress stood in front of a vast crowd of young people and explained to them the reason for the Genfest: “An explosion of fires, not artificial fireworks, but real fires, the fire of God’s love. The goal of ut omnes (“Father, may they all be one” [Jn 17:20-23]) draws near. Jesus wins over and draws people along, leaving behind everything that doesn’t move, like a stream of fresh water that leaves to the sides all the things that can’t be carried ahead in its limpid waters.”
Chiara added: “You’ll see the miracles of God’s grace, because God is with us, God is in our midst. He’s the only Powerful One.” Standing among the young people was the current president of the Focolare, Maria Voce. “I’d like to say a huge thank you to the young people.” They’ve made a great act of courage “which seems like the answer of today to the appeal Chiara has launched ever since 1960: ‘Young people of the world unite!’ This appeal still resounds right now, not only for you, but for everyone. The goal of a united world has not yet been reached. The first generation couldn’t do it alone. The second won’t do it alone either, because its purpose is so vast. The idea of a united world has to be passed on from one generation to the next, and all of them united together can hope to bring it to fulfilment.”
She went on to say: “The Genfest isn’t something that only regards the young, but everyone. That’s why I want to go, and I hope there will be many of us.” Everyone can do something. “Some may say: but I’m sick, I can’t… Offer your pain! Let’s all of us step up. You can help by offering hospitality; you can help the young people to prepare their programmes; you can give financial support for the young people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. Let’s do all we can, whatever it takes. The Genfest is mine, it’s ours!”
Before signing off, young person from the Philippines leaves everyone with a triple task: “First: organize a local Genfest. Second: do a concrete project to help at least one young person go to Manila. Third: Buy the T-shirt with our logo.”
Find all the details at: Youth for a United World website, and remember this acronym Y4UW.
See also: www.focolare.org/en/genfest-2018/