With gratitude for “her example of heroic faithfulness to God’s plan for her,” Focolare president Maria Voce, informed Focolare members around the world of her death following a long life spent in its entirety for unity. “Even in the pain of this huge loss,” said Maria Voce, “we are forever one heart and one soul with her.”
Gisella Calliari had been born in Lavis, Trent, Italy on April 18, 1920. She was simply known as Gis, one of the first young women, along with her sister, to follow Chiara Lubich in the “adventure of unity,” which led to the starting of the Focolare Movement and its expansion around the world. She was the youngest of three sisters and met Chiara in 1944 in that tiny apartment that lodged the first hearth in Piazza Cappuccini,Trent. The next day, she decided to follow Chiara along the same path. The first hostile reaction from her family was softened when her mother met Igino Giordani who hired Gisella to be his secretary in Rome.
During her long life, Gis spent more than 40 years living with Chiara. After living in several focolares in Italy – in Trent, Rome, Milan and Florence, she took charge of the women’s section of the focolarinas. Then, she worked alongside the foundress and Oreste Basso in following the development of the Work of Mary worldwide. This provided her with the opportunity to visit Focoare communities around the world. Her whole life was very profoundly linkded to the charism of unity, to which she was faithful until the last.
Focolare.org will soon publish a more extensive biography.