Focolare Movement » Wellbeing & Ecology Official International Website Wed, 28 Jan 2015 21:18:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Solidarity is enkindled in the heart of the city Mon, 19 Jan 2015 06:00:16 +0000 20150119-aHere, December 25 is not a holiday – a volunteer at the centre for children with disabilities told us. Nevertheless, informing ahead of time the families of these children with disabilities who are undergoing rehabilitation with us, we at least take a break for one day. And so, together with the youth in our team, we thought of spending Christmas at the Center by having lunch together.

They also invited other young people who have helped us during the year in our service in some orphanages and who were happy to share this moment with us. Some of them are Christians while others are not, just like the majority of the people around us, but the desire to be one family is in the heart of each one. When we greeted one another there was that look of joy in everyone in expectation of something beautiful.

In this period, some families with their children whom we are taking care of and who come from faraway, are housed near the Center, where we try to put into practice the spirituality of unity. They are passing through very difficult and painful situations, for many reasons. Even if we had suspended our services for the day we told them that whoever wished to join us to share a moment of celebration were welcome to do so. All of them said yes. A mother cried tears of joy at our invitation: “I know that Christmas for you is a very important celebration, if you have invited me it means that I too am important!”.

Another mother, just three weeks ago had taken the train to come to the city with her husband to search for medical treatment for their daughter who has a severe form of cerebral paralysis. She went to several places but everyone told her that it was not worthwhile and it would be better for them just to go home and accept things as they are. With great sadness in her heart, she already had the train tickets to return home in the afternoon. But then she remembered one of her Christian relatives who some time ago told her about a church that she had visited. Even if she was not Christian, she felt the push to go and look for this church. She found it and met a priest. He knew one of the youth in our team who sings in the church choir, and so he told her: “Look, just fifteen minutes from here there is a place where they take care of children like yours, why don’t you try to go there”. He explained to her the route and she arrived in our center. Even if she did not have an appointment, two of us welcomed her. After awhile she called her husband who was waiting at the hostel and she told him: “We will not leave anymore”.

Later we understood that their relationship was undergoing a moment of crisis because of their daughter: “When I arrived here, what immeediately touched me was the smile of the people. I found hope once again and my husband is also not as depressed”.

The invitation to the Christmas celebration was also exptended to them. Christmas… a God who made himself little so as to make us all brothers and sisters!




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Enzo Fondi, the final will of God Wed, 31 Dec 2014 06:00:13 +0000

EnzoFondi_a«A soul in love, » Enzo «lived constantly in God’s presence, always one with Him. Always.» This was how Chiara Lubich described Enzo Fondi, just after he passed away all of a sudden, silently and serenely on 31 December 2001. «Enzo Fondi has gone to Heaven,» Chiara wrote to all the members of the Movement: «It is a great joy, even if in my lifetime […] we have never felt such great pain. The joy is because we cannot only say that Enzo has died, but that he gently passed from one “room” to the other. When they found him after the Te Deum, the expression on his face was one of great peace, without the shadow of anxiety at all, giving us the impression that he was “received” by Mary, our Mother, whom he loved in a particular way, with such tenderness. In our hearts we had the common impression that if we have been deprived here on earth, of this “gigantic figure” of the Work of Mary, we have, on the other hand, a saint in Heaven. This was how we considered him over the last few years, when his illness had refined and prepared him for this step.»

As an enthusiastic promoter of unity, he was especially guided by one particular sentence of the Gospel: “As you, Father, are in me, and I am in you may they also be one in us” (Jn 17:21).

Enzo Fondi, a doctor from an affluent family, was born in Velletri in 1927. In 1951, he joined the first Roman focolare. He was a part of the first group of Focolarini doctors who, at the start of the 1960s, crossed the confines of the socialist block to work as an assistant surgeon in the Catholic Hospital of Leipzig in Eastern Germany. From then on the spirituality of unity spread throughout Eastern Europe. In 1964 he was ordained priest at the service of the Movement, and later was assigned to the United States.  

In 1977, the year in which Chiara Lubich received the Templeton Prize for the progress of religion, Enzo was assigned the task of developing interreligious dialogues of the Focolare, and with one of the first focolarine, Natalia Dallapiccola, gave his fruitful contribution to this end. On hearing the news, our Muslim friends in Algiers wrote: «With great simplicity Enzo taught us all the rules of the “art of loving” and opened our eyes to the universality of Chiara’s work and to what degree the miracle of unity is daily within our reach!» For years, Enzo was in charge – together with Natalia – of the spiritual formation of the members of the Focolare Movement. There is, therefore, a big archive of his answers, writings, and talks, with which he helped many to acquire a deeper comprehension of the charism of unity.

«Enzo had spent his last years on a cross,» EnzoFondi_ChiaraLubichChiara wrote again. A serious disease, in fact, had more than once led him to the brink of death. «But – we had the impression – that he had embraced Jesus Forsaken in such a perfect way. He was never impatient even for a moment, and never complained to his co-focolarini. The drama he was living was a matter between him and Jesus. Though rarely, he had confided to me about his physical condition, always with a smile on his face. And in this way, in the last period his life was an uphill, relentless climb, embellished with virtues, and God bestowed the grace of union with Him.»

This is testified to by Enzo’s last thoughts dated 15 December 2001: «My last will and testament. For me, it is the last will of God, the last thing he wants of me now. There will be no other. I must fulfill this last will to perfection, whatever it may be, and this is my last testament. I don’t know what will really be the last will of God I shall undertake in life. The only thing I am sure of is: for that last and this present moment, I will have the actual grace to help me do it, inasmuch as I have practiced in exploiting this grace, by living the present moment.»

A few days after December 31, he went from this earth accomplishing the final will of God.


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Sardinia: An extraordinary life Sun, 28 Dec 2014 06:00:01 +0000

See also: Disability: the value of life

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Lucio Dal Soglio: his Christmas Fri, 26 Dec 2014 09:26:44 +0000

LucioDalSoglio“You left in silence, almost on tiptoe, without disturbing anyone. Perhaps you wanted to celebrate your Christmas in heaven, the Christmas celebration of Life…” wrote one of the focolarini who had lived with him in a focolare community over the last years in Rocca di Papa.

Born in Vicenza (Italy) on 22 February 1927, he met the Ideal through the group in Pisa in ‘52, where he was studying Medicine. After a few years in Rome, Pescara and Turin, came the turning point of his life: Africa.

This occurred at the start of October 1962, when Chiara Lubich and Don Foresi asked him, and Nicasio Triolo, another focolarino doctor: “Are you ready to leave for Africa?”.

On 11 February 1963 they landed in Cameroon together with Danilo Gioacchin, a vet and Venetian, like Lucio. Life over there was a daily query on the reality around them, in an attitude of crystalline and open respect for the culture of a people that was completely new to them. Wonder, uncertainty, discoveries and deep perceptions of their limits in face of a mystery, but above all always open to the plans of God who would have transformed their experience into a fantastic “love song” that developed simultaneously with the founding of the Movement and the spreading of the Ideal of unity in the black continent. Lucio would have lived that particular time in close contact with Chiara Lubich who later visited Cameroon in ’65, ‘66 and ‘69. Much later, in ‘92 Chiara went to Kenya and again to Fontem (Cameroon), where in the meantime, in 2000 the first Focolare citadel in Africa was built. Lucio was so happy to see that in “a span of 35 years Chiara’s dream had become a reality, that God exists, that love is real, and that mutual love is the secret of happiness; and that all was made possible because Our Lady has embraced us all as a sole family.”

FONTEM 1970-75
Da sinistra: Lucio Dal Soglio, Georges Mani, Dominic Nyukilim, Teresina Tumuhairwe, Benedict Murac Manjo, Marilen Holzhauser, d. Adolfo Raggio, Nicolette Manka Ndingsa.

Lucio did not speak much about himself, and he never wanted to show off, or be in the spotlight. But for those who were lucky enough to have known him, Lucio was like a “huge Baobab” tree – as some African friends wrote recently. Numberless echoes have reached us from Africa: “We shall never be grateful enough to him for what he has done for the Work of Mary here in Africa!!!”. “His love for people was infinite, because he saw in each person, Christ, whom Lucio loved with all his heart…”. “We remember above all, his radicalism and sincerity in living the Gospel, a big brother, a true friend who has always walked with us along life’s “holy journey.” “I see an African Mary’ with her arms open wide to welcome this special son of hers, along with many others who have lived, suffered, worked and endlessly loved to bring the ideal of Unity to the lands of Africa. This is not a time of sadness, but of profound thanksgiving to God for the gift of having walked alongside Lucio on this holy journey, and who was our father, elder brother and friend.”

The world of the Gospel Chiara Lubich had given him as a guide and lighthouse for his life was: “”If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” (Mt. 18,12).

“We are praying to him –Maria Voce wrote to the Focolare members –and asking him to help the entire Work of Mary to fulfill the God’s plan “that all may be one.”


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Sierra Leone: assisting the Ebola victims Fri, 19 Dec 2014 05:00:04 +0000

The serious Ebola outbreak spread particularly in Guinea Conakry, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with immense losses among the local population, as was communicated by the press. AMU, the NGO related to the Focolare Movement, is intensely involved in fighting the virus in various ways. We have asked Stefano Comazzi, one of the leaders, to tell us about this.

«In reality the situation seems to be much more dramatic than what is generally relayed, since the epidemic breakout is still beyond control. This goes to impact greatly on the lives of millions of people, due to travel restrictions and reduced business with the consequent scarcity of food, and impediments in schooling and work… not to mention the mourning in families hit by the virus, and who often lack the means to support the weaker members.»

Outbreak figures «As of today–Stefano affirms – the figures are imprecise since many cases are not recorded, and also because the epidemic outbreak in the rural zones has reached the big cities, where the dense population and the miserable living conditions strongly enhance the diffusion of the virus.»

Dramatic situations. As is known, «the healthcare operators are among the first to pay in person since in trying to limit the infection, they were in turn infected, often with deadly outcomes, thus weakening the health organisations that already had limited resources, and today are no long able to face this calamity. Furthermore, the lack of means and suitable medical equipment and material had forced many health centres to close since instead of being barriers to the spreading, ironically they became a means of spreading the outbreak»

Sierra Leone. A similar situation occurred also in the Catholic “Holy Spirit” diocesan hospital of Makeni in Sierra Leone, the locality where Fr. Carlo Di Sopra, a Xaverian priest and pioneer of the spirituality of unity in Africa is stationed and where there is a dynamic Focolare community.

Fr. Carlo, with the other religious of his congregation and the entire diocese of Makeni, is all committed to starting up again the activities of the hospital. «At the moment – he said – our structure manages to offer only limited first-aid services. We are, however, doing our best to carry out the urgent renovation works that will make the structure suitable to new challenges, especially regarding the purchase and installation in the new facilities, of a specialised medical laboratory for infectious diseases. With the hope that this Ebola emergency comes to an end, this laboratory will, however, continue to serve the local population in the prevention and care of other locally diffused infectious diseases (AIDS, hepatitis C, malaria, etc.)».

Project. This action is part of a more extensive project coordinated by Caritas and with the support of other associations in an integrated project of active assistance, not only in Sierra Leone but also in Guinea Conakry and Liberia.

The youth in the front line. «There are other immediate and concrete activities which the Focolare Movement supports, for the sick and their families – Stefano Comazzi concluded – in particular for those in quarantine and who will receive support with the contributions collected for this emergency.»

Those who wish to give their contribution may do so through the following account at Banca Popolare Etica – Rome Branch:

code IBAN: IT16 G050 1803 2000 0000 0120 434


registered in the name of Associazione Azione per un Mondo Unito Onlus

Reason: Emergency Ebola

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The spiritual journey of a family Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:00:49 +0000 Salvatore vividly recalls, “When I was about fourteen, I had my first encounter with Jesus. I remember it as vividly as if it happened yesterday. I had met the Focolare Movement, people who had found fulfillment in life and who were able to get this young lad interested in what they were on about. I liked hanging around with them and together with my brother, we’d find every excuse to go to their place. It was that special aura around them, the ‘presence’ of Jesus in their midst, that attracted me. The fruit of that period? The desire to meet Jesus in the Eucharist every day.”

When he was 20 he fell in love with Adriana. “I decided to declare my feelings, certain that they would be reciprocated. But the response I got was a harsh disappointment. I could not imagine my future without her. I was tempted to withdraw into myself. But I learned not to stop, and to have an open mind and heart. I persevered in loving. After a few years, I found myself with Adriana at my side, and it was then that our lifelong adventure began.”

Some years into the marriage, and with three adolescent kids, Adriana and Salvatore were immersed in a busy life, amid family, their jobs, and volunteer work. Above all, a difficult period began for Adriana. “Slowly and silently, a sense of aridity was growing in me, characterised by a lack of self-confidence. I experienced bitterness in losing people I loved, and at a certain point, there were even times when I wished I could die. But somehow, everything around me was pushing me to move on. I worked for long hours behind a teller’s window with a throng of people in line, and trying to love each one, after which I was at home, cooking, cleaning, staying with my kids, and helping them out. My relationship with God was reduced to a bleak light which was quickly fading. One day I took stock of this absence of God in me, and I was overcome by fear which shook me deeply. I prayed to ask him to reveal himself! It was almost as if I was challenging him. It was during my early morning walks, that I found a relationship with God again, and this helped me re-establish my inner peace.”

And the kids? It was an experience of detachment. Salvatore recounts the experience with his firstborn. “Ever since he was a teenager, he wanted to be a musician. He learned to play the guitar and though he never wanted to go to the conservatory, he got involved in our city – Naples – with musical groups, activities, and musicians of a certain level; He had frequent engagements with them, even if he was only 20. The prospects, however, were scarce. At 24, he decided to give his life a new turn and left for London. It was such a disappointment for us. He did not speak a word of English, and he was going to this immense and unknown city, without knowing where to stay and how to make a living. On the day of his departure, I accompanied him to the airport, and watched him disappear at the departure gates. My heart was torn between contrasting sensations. I felt fear for his life, the pain of losing him, yet I was aware of the need to respect his choices in life. That image of the plane taking off seemed to summarise what God was asking of me: to let go of the flesh of my flesh, to allow him to be different from me. God was saying, “Before he became your son, he was MY son, so do you think I will not take care of him?”

My son now lives in London, working as a musician. “Two years ago, we went to visit him. The opportunity came as he was performing in a concert in a theatre which is considered the temple of modern dance, filled to the brim by 2,000 people! He was there with with his successful band which had taken him on tour around the world.”

And at what stage are we in now? “Well, we’re experiencing a newly found freedom, even in our recent choice to leave our home in Naples for a few years and to transfer to another city, Rome, to be at the service of the international centre of the Focolare Movement.”

(A. and S. L. – Italy)

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Enzo Fondi Recounts Tue, 16 Dec 2014 05:00:17 +0000

EnzoFondi_a“In high school, when I read Man The Unkown by Alexis Carrel, I found great inspiration for my future. His intuition concerning the psychosomatic relationship, that is, the interaction between body and soul in health and in illness simply fascinated me.

But the war was on and there was the landing at Anzio (Italy), just a few kilometres away from where my family lived, which catapulted me into the traumatic experience of saturation bombings, and the destruction of our home. Rome then became the safe haven where my family and I went to live with the few possessions we were able to salvage. There I began my life again, and enrolled in medical school. In addition to my studies, which were moving on with good results, I attended the Catholic activities that were held in the world of the university. I became more and more convinced that the most genuinely obvious Christian values of charity, justice and the faith that were expressed in good works, needed to be more deeply rooted in the consciences of Christians, in order to avoid that deadly dichotomy between the relationship with God and the relationship with other people, which renders the Christian presence in the world invisible and irrelevant.

Therefore, without realising it, I was searching for something, in an interior atmosphere of expectation, of vague discontent that was towards something that was new. This was the state of my soul when, in the 5th year of medical school, in February 1949, I was invited to a meeting.

EnzoFondi con ChiaraLubichThere I met Chiara Lubich. After having been introduced by an order priest, she told us her spiritual experience and that of the first group that formed around her. And I don’t know how to explain it, but by some sort of alchemy that story I heard from Chiara also became my story. It didn’t deal in ideas and necessary explanations. It was a simple exposition of the facts; these were extraordinary, yet “normal” people.  

It was a matter of accepting their story or not. But if one accepted it, there was no other way of knowing more, than to follow that young woman who – you could just see it – was the living personification of that experience, of that message she brought. So at the end of the meeting I wanted to spend a few more minutes with Chiara and accompanied her for a bit of the way. From that day I never lost contact with the focolarine who had been living in Rome for a few months. […]

But my story wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t tell you the secret weapon that made me win the battles against myself and overcome that radical inability to love which afflicts all of us. It was the discovery of Jesus’s greatest suffering in the small and great sufferings of humanity. Chiara spoke of it often, because it’s such an indispensable help, especially for those who are just learning to take their first steps in building unity. We all know that dark umbra that lies behind our human nature, with its load of introspection and selfishness. But all that was assumed once and for all by Jesus It has taken on His voice and countenance, which tells us that “the night no longer has any darkness” and every wound can be healed, because He loved it and healed it.

Many times, through the years I’ve experienced the burden of pain and suffering. Yet, each time I believed in Love and threw myself into His arms, beyond the suffering I found an ever deeper peace, an ever purer joy.”


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Get married? Why? Tue, 09 Dec 2014 05:00:49 +0000 2014FidanzatiIs he or she the right person? Does the precariousness of one’s situation make a long-term programme possible? Why does marriage seem so frightening? Whoever is thinking about building a future together today often find themselves having to face choices, difficulties, doubts. A journey of growth and the sharing with other couples can help in living one’s own choice with responsibility.

There are many young people who feel the need for a preparation. Ines a young Spanish girl, works in the field of fashion, although she has just been recently lais off; she and Alejandro, a business consultant, are planning to get married next July. They are from Madrid and came to know about the coursefrom others who have already attended it: “To invest in our future is what counts the most, and so we did all we could to be here”. A couple from Brazil, because of the high cost of the airfare, requested that it be their advanced wedding gift.

They were days of reflection and discussion on the various topics through experiences, reports of experts, workshops that were about life as a couple and family life, from budgeting to work, simplicity and moderation, communication, feelings and emotions and being parents. “Ideas such as these form us as a future family – continued Ines – and help us to ge to know each other more. Is “this” really what we want?”


More that 200 engaged couples met at Castelgandolfo (20-23 Novembre 2014), with simultaneous translation in ten languages, during the annual course of the New Families,, which is bringing ahead the formation of engaged couples also on the local and regional levels.

2014Fidanzati2Modern culture which is centered on personal well-being, does not encourage marriage which implies a bond sworn to before society and which requires a committment and also some sacrifices. But the social and family network give solidity to the relationship and in the communion among families, each family unit is a resource for the others.

“For me the legal recognition is important”, said Adolfo who has been with Antonella for ten years, and they have been living together for five years: in April they will get married in a mixed rite ceremony since he is a non-believer and she is Catholic. “I asked myself whether this difference in our convictions would have brought with it some problems among us, but then in learning to accept each other, the diversity of the other has served as a stimulus. Last year I got sick – she continued. This trial strengthened our relationship and guided us in the step towards marriage”.

“From a financial point of view, our situation is quite uncertain because I have an employment contract only up to February, then I don’t know what happens next – Ana of Belgrade explains – while Alexander, her fiancee, plays the violin in an orchestra. “We understood that there may be small financial solutions and we have to see what is really necessary”. From Serbia, also 3 other mixed couples came together with them, one of the two is Catholic and the other is Orthodox. “Our desire is to understand together how to live better the differences among us so that they become an enrichment and not an obstacle”.

This “forever can also be frightening – said one of the families of the staff organizing the Convention – “but this is not synonymous to perfection. Rather, perfection consists in this starting again everytime that there is a setback or a difficulty in the relationship”. “A marriage is not successful just because it lasts, but what is important is its quality. Staying together and knowing how to love one another forever is the challenge that Christian spouses face” Pope Francis said to the engaged couples on the occasion of the celebration of Valentine’s Day 2014”.

“In marriage, the spouses don’t give each other anything, but they give themselves in a continuous game of unity and distinction – said Chiara Lubich in Lucerne in 1999 - and their future is enclosed within this dynamics, a future that will bring them beyond themselves, and in particular through the generating of new life; and from this wider communion the family becomes the generator of sociality”.

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Teens for Unity: the greatest goal Wed, 03 Dec 2014 05:00:37 +0000 20141203-01A soccer tournament where the winner is not one team but two and from different parts of the planet sometimes very far from each other? Where Art Play is practiced and awarded? Where the sponsors are willing to donate an amount for every goal as a contribution to finance scholarships for teens from disadvantaged countries? Many initiatives and projects of solidarity? A “third playing time”…?

«This and many other things were part of the Super Soccer World 2014 – Federico Rovea, one of the organizers of the event shared with us. This sporting event was promoted by the “Teens for Unity” of the Focolare Movment and involved 56 soccer teams from various cities in the world».

Two teams win. Characteristic of the tournament is that the winners are the two teams of the twinned cities, which symbolically play together at a distance, giving the competition a planetary dimension.

Among the 14 twinnings: the teens of Bečej, a small city of Serbia, twinned with Tlencem in Algeria; those of Loppiano (Italy) with the teens of Florianópolis in Brazil, the Italian city of Rieti played simultaneously with Buenos Aires (Argentina).

This last twinning, just like all the others, was not just “ideal”. In fact during the tournament it was possible to have a telephone link-up with Argentina to share with the participating South Americans the same spirit of friendship and fraternity. The teens of Rieti shared – aside from the experience of the day – that also some projects of solidarity were born thanks to Super Soccer. And this was: the organization of a sports activity for disabled teens and fund-raising for those in need, through the sale of sweets. The parents present were also very much involved and enthusiastic about the initiative.

Art Play. On the sports fields, the teens put into practice – aside from their passion for the sport – also the spirit of Art Play. This meant four fundamental rules:

• Respect for the others

• Cooperation

• Responsibility

• Relationship

True cornerstones of the tournament that contributed to the points of the teams just as much as the goals scored. The referees watched out, therefore, not only for the respect of the rules of the game but also for the spirit which animated the players, giving a positive point to whoever distinguished himself in living it. «The teens were attentive to these rules just as much as they were to scoring goals. According to me, this rule must be inserted among the rules of the World Cup tournaments », affirmed one of the gymnastics professors involved in the organization of the event.

20141203-02Scholarships. Linked to the tournament was also the project “Schoolmates”, with the proposal of finding a sponsor which, in every city, would be willing to donate an amount for every goal scored, as a financial contribution for the scholarships for teens coming from disadvantaged countries. The 367 goals scored gained € 2,370, for a total of 22 scholarships.

The “third playing time”. A moment of celebration shared with the participants to the sporting event and with the palyers, which contributed to bringing the spirit of the sports competition also outsied the playing field.

Super Soccer World, more of a celebration rather than a tournament, characterized by its being worldwide and by sharing, by solidarity and the respect for the other, that the teens had the possibility of experiencing within, and above all, outside of the soccer playing field. We’ll see each other again next year!

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Josef Lux, a peacemaker politician Fri, 21 Nov 2014 05:00:24 +0000

Josef Lux 1“I’ll never forget his smile when he would greet me as he returned home tired from work. . . Even though he would never get more than only a few hours of sleep, he never missed the early morning Mass. . . He never brought political problems into our focolare, although there were times when he would ask for our opinions. Actually, he had to go against the current quite often, but I never saw in him any hatred towards his opponents.” As he went off to work each morning, he would tell us goodbye saying: ‘Always, immediately, with joy!'” It was a way of telling us he was prepared to accept any situation, even the difficult ones that the day would be holding in store for him. This attitude was probably the secret behind his life, which made dialogue possible with everyone, often in very difficult situations.” This is how the two focolarini who lived in the same focolare as Josef Lux remember him.

Born on February 1, 1956, in the late 1970s he became acquainted with the spirituality of Chiara Lubich, in Cocen, Eastern Bohemia where he worked as a zoo technician in an agricultural cooperative. In 1986 he married Vera and felt the call to follow Jesus in the focolare. Chiara assigned him a sentence from the Gospel that gave direction to his life: “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Mt 22: 21).

Josef Lux con moglie Vera
Josef Lux with his wife Vera

The events of November 1989, followed by the fall of Communism, changed his life. Right from the start of the political changes he was among the main organisers of the demonstrations in the square, and in 1990 he was elected to the National Parliament for the People’s Party. His decision to enter into politics was the result of deep reflection. He was strongly convinced that politics could be purified by people who were ready to make the personal sacrifice. He enthroned a large portrait of Jesus on the Cross, on the wall of his study. He wanted to have Him always in front of him, especially during the intense negotiations, and in the demanding work.

In September 1990, after a brilliant speech in front of the People’s Party convention, he was elected president. He worked for the transformation of this political group into a modern party with a Christian orientation.

In 1992 he was re-elected to Parliament and became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture of the Czech Government until 1998. For many people he was a sign of contradiction: esteemed by the people who shared his choices and rejected by political opponents.

Vera and his six children were of great support to him.

Josef Lux con Vaclav Havel
Josepf Lex with Vaclav Havel

In 1998 he was informed that he had a serious illness: leukaemia. That news gave rise to a chain of support: many Czech citizens as well as many others, offered bone marrow transplants. Although it was proving difficult to find the right fit, Josef was still pleased because that allowed the data base of possible donors to expand. Finally, an anonymous donor was found in Italy and the decision was made to have the surgery in Seattle, USA. The surgery went well, but during his recovery he developed an infection that worsened.

His children arrived in Seattle, accompanied by a focolarino priest who celebrated Mass in his hospital room. Josef continued to repeat that he offered his pain for the spreading of God’s Kingdom and for young people. Chiara Lubich followed him closely, assuring him of her daily prayers.

Vera and the children held hands as they sang Josef’s favourite psalm: “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust” (Ps 91:2). Well aware of the gravity of his condition, he was serene and continued to ask for prayers. Then he said some words that have become his testament: “Smile, don’t cry.”

In announcing his death on November 21, 1999, Chiara asked that Josef Lux be the protector of the Movement for Unity in Politics along with Igino Giordani.

His first little “miracle” following his death was a day of unity for the whole nation, a unity never seen since before the Velvet Revolution: on the radio, in newspapers, on television – everyone including his political opponents openly expressed their esteem for him and for the values he defended and spread during his time in public office. Many said they found in him not only a “statesman” but also a Christian who drew from his faith in God the strength and the courage to work in favour of his country.

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