In the Mexico City Focolare, Pope Francis’ invitation to “go forth” can be seen in the face and heard in the voice of Reina Cruz. Originally from El Salvador, she serves a community that shares the Word of Life in difficult situations, just a few kilometers outside the Mexican capital. In the group there are both dealers and users, and those who have decided to befriend them.
The focolarine carry the pope’s voice to the periphery, as he has often invited us to, to suburbs that are difficult, poor, made up of millions who, thanks to their work, are able to hear the words of the Gospel for the first time. Reina admits it is not easy. “Going into an environment where 13- and 14-year-old kids practically live without any family, we feel that we can at least bring our presence. Their activity has even spread to more remote areas, such as visiting Xavierian missionaries in the Santa Cruz forest, a visit made even more intense because it was Holy Week and Easter.
In these often-forgotten corners of the world, the young women present the Focolare spirituality. By now it has spread to 182 countries in the world, with centers in 87, including Mexico, where there are close to 110,000 members.
Setting their sights on befriending their brothers and sisters, which is typical of the movement founded by Chiara Lubich, these Mexican groups have entered into various social environments. They have been encouraged by Pope Francis’ visit to Loppiano on May 10 to continue on the path started by Lubich, a Servant of God.
“A dozen of us,” says Reina, “went to visit Santiago de Anaya, Actopan, in the state of Hidalgo, the heart of Mexico.”
Without expecting anything in return, not even interest in their spirituality, they have begun working with the Missionaries of the Divine Word. Their one objective is to offer points for the community to reflect on daily: the word of God and its effects on our lives as committed laypeople.
The phenomenon of drug dealing and abuse among teens sounded the alarm for members of the Focolare, driving them to listen to difficult experiences and share the Gospel message with kids who live on the street alone.
“On May 6, for example, there were two girls aged 14 and 17 who came up to tell us tearfully about how drug use was growing among their friends.” The older one had been thrown out of her mother’s house, Reina remembers, and she was desperate after ties with her mother had been cut. What to do? How to help?
For those who follow Chiara Lubich, healing issues and wounds in the family is part of the task of accompanying others. The challenges continually grow in line with a society whose values are ever more fragile, with weak family ties that at times can even be completely absent.
As a result, their presence ends up being the only reference point for people who, as they grow, need a ledge to cling to and not risk drowning in drugs or despair. This is why listening is so important, they explain at the Focolare in Mexico City, as is prayer and spiritual meetings to renew lives in God.
The goal remains unity, and this is an opportunity to rise from poverty and walk toward dignity. The dialogue with the local priests helps them to act together, avoid divisions, and look at development projects such as an economy of communion.
It is a journey taken together with the Virgin Mary, a mother who never abandons her own children, “not even those who are most alone.”