Focolare Movement » Wellbeing & Ecology Official International Website Sun, 01 Mar 2015 06:53:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Naples: Families With a Heart Mon, 16 Feb 2015 06:00:56 +0000

bambiniAll the documents are stamped and now the child is a son or a daughter in every respect, a child upon whom to to pour all that love, which adoptive parents always have plenty of. Years of waiting and ocean-crossings did not stop them. After a first fleeting encounter in which child and parent became acquainted and some brief stays at hotels abroad, they are finally home. It is a unique and exhilarating experience to witness the completion of an adoption, however, more than a completion, it is also the beginning of an uphill journey.

The first hurdle overcome, the newly diplomated parents are assailed by a thousand questions and often feel disoriented. It was for families such as these that “Families of the heart” was begun in Grazzanise, Italy, the brainchild of the Action for New Families Onlus (AFN), and with contributions from the Banco di Napoli Foundation, The project offers a one-stop free counseling service for adoptive families in a local area that provides expert advice, or simply the opportunity to meet with other families. It also provides free courses in which theoretical classes are alternated with social gatherings to promote an exchange of experiences between families, as well as the possibility of networking with other associations in the area.

Adoption continues to remain a challenge because to this day still too many children are abandoned in institutions, both in the North and the South. It is a challenge that Chiara Lubich wanted to take on when, in 1967, she invited families who followed her to “empty the orphanages.” And that was how a myriad of families with or without children, opened heart and home to children who did not have a family, providing healing for their wound of abandonment.

Mr and Mrs Gravante are responsible for the New Families Project in Campania. They explain: “Through this project we wish to equip families with tools that will strengthen their resources and help them to become world-families, open to the diversity of a daughter or son who comes from a faraway land with both genetic and cultural differences. It is a fascinating process but also demanding, as is retracing the life experiences of a child and helping him or her to make peace with them.”

20150216-01At the New Families Project – as with all authorised international adoption agencies – it is required to follow up with the family for the first three years of post-adoption, but often this time frame is not long enough. The process of the child’s integration in the new family and his or her inclusion in the social structures of an area, can require much more time. The adoptive families, far from being left on their own, need to have a relationship with other families like them, so that each day they can rediscover the value of their choice and regain their initial enthusiasm as they plan for the future, through a process that is the fruit of sharing.

Stressing that this partnership is precisely what animates the association, Andrea Turatti, President of the New Families Project remarks: “We are also pleased to offer our thanks for the generous participation of the Bank of Naples in this opportunity for the territory of Naples, a region that well deserves it. In fact, of the 850 children who have found a family through the New Families Project, 180 have been welcomed into this region. And it was the maturity of this region that allowed the launching of the project that we hhope to export to the rest of Italy and beyond as a contribution to a more united society. “

For information:

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Chiara Lubich: “There is no portion of life that is not worth living.” Wed, 11 Feb 2015 09:26:31 +0000

Source: Centro Chiara Lubich, Video (in Italian)


“If at the basis of laws or social projects we place a mentality lacking in respect for the suffering, the disabled and the elderly, then little by little we create a false society. We give importance only to a few values like physical well-being, strength, exaggerated productivity and power, while we distort the purpose for which a nation lives; that is, for the good of the human person and society.

Health, as we know, is a precious gift which should be protected. Thus we should do all we can so that our bodies and everyone else’s, too, receive nourishment and rest, and are not exposed to sicknesses, accidents or an exaggerated amount of sports.

The body is also important for a Christian. But if there is a loss of health, we must remember that there is a Life which is not conditioned by the state of our health, but by the supernatural love that burns in our hearts.

And it is this superior Life which gives value to our physical life even when we are sick.  If we consider illnesses merely from a human point of view, we can only affirm that they are misfortunes. But, if we look at illnesses from a Christian point of view, we can see that they are trials in which we must train ourselves for the great trial which awaits all of us, when we will have to face the passage to the next Life.

Didn’t the Holy Father just recently say that illnesses are spiritual exercises, sermons that God Himself preaches to us? People who are sick have a richness that others do not have; a richness of another kind. In speaking of asceticism and mysticism, the Church refers to illnesses not only in reference to the field of medicine, but as purifications that God sends, therefore as small steps towards union with God.

In addition, our faith tells us that in sickness a person participates in the sufferings of Christ. In this light, the sick person is another Christ crucified who can offer his or her suffering for what is of most value, the eternal salvation of all people.

In the frenzy of work and daily life we are tempted at times to see people who suffer only as marginal cases to help so that they can quickly recover and return to their activities. It doesn’t occur to us that they are the ones who even now can do the most, who can contribute the most.

People who are ill can positively carry out their role on behalf of humanity only if they are understood and loved. Love can help them to give meaning to their condition and to be aware of what they represent. And what holds true for the sick, holds true also for the disabled. People with a disability need love. They need to be recognized for the value that their life has: it is sacred, as every other life is sacred, with all the consequent dignity. They need to be considered as persons and, as much as possible, live normal lives among other people.

What should we say about the elderly? Every life calls for love, and the elderly are no exception. Today even the elderly constitute a problem because of the increased number of people in this age category due to the higher average life expectancy.

Thus we are aware of a tendency in society to isolate the elderly, to consider them as a social burden because they are no longer productive. We speak of the elderly as a category apart, almost as if we were not speaking of human beings. Besides the inevitable physical decline they experience, the elderly can become discouraged considering themselves as useless.

We must give new hope to the elderly. Advanced age is nothing other than the third season of life. Life that is born, develops, and declines, these are nothing other than three aspects of the one mystery of all life which derives from God-Love.

In certain Asian and African countries, the elderly are highly respected because they possess wisdom. In fact, the elderly person emphasizes which is essential, what is most important.

We remember what was said about St. John the Evangelist. At the age of eighty, while visiting the Christian communities, he was asked about the message of Jesus. He always replied: “Love one another,” as if he had nothing more to add. With this phrase he had truly focused on the central thought of Christ.

To distance ourselves from the elderly is to deprive ourselves of a patrimony. We must value them by loving them. And we must value them even when they are sick and seriously ill, when there is no more hope humanly speaking, and their need for assistance is pressing.

Before God, there is no life, no part of life, that is not worthy of being lived.

Chiara Lubich


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A sign of light against human trafficking Mon, 09 Feb 2015 10:15:41 +0000

logo_randiSister Tina Ventimiglia, a Franciscan Sister of the Poor, and Resi and Alessandra, volunteers of the Randi Association, find unimagined ways to contact and accompany victims of human trafficking, and to rescue them. Prevention plays an important role, through the creation of opportunity for development in the southern hemisphere of the world.

Yesterday, February 8, 2015, coincided with the liturgical feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese woman who, as a child, had a dramatic experience of slavery. This was the day chosen as the day for the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking. It was meant to break the silence on this “shameful wound that has no place in civil society.” That is how Pope Francis defined the phenomenon during the Angelus, with his heart full of sorrow for the multitude of “men, women and children,” “who are enslaved, exploited, abused, used as instruments of work or pleasure, and often tortured and humiliated.” He called on governments to eradicate the causes.

It is significant that the first to raise the voices against this ‘modern’ and unacceptable form of slavery were the Religious men and women who are spread across the world, and often the first and only ‘Good Samaritans’ who are able to reach out to those whose personal freedom has been violently robbed from them by those who have taken taking full possession of their lives and made them slaves.

The experience of Tina Ventimiglia, a Franciscan Sister of the Poor was particularly meaningful. For twelve years she and her community have taken on the task of reaching out to girls living on the streets in Pistoia, Italy. “Illegal immigration and forced labour,” she says, “often has the countenance of a woman, the victim of so-called ‘protectors’. These fearful, suspicious or dismissive faces of those who no longer trust anyone strongly challenge us. In the light of what our founder taught and the charism of Chiara Lubich, we don’t see them as something to run away from, to cast off, throw away or, even worse, to condemn – we see them as ‘wounds’ of Christ in need of healing. You don’t need to ‘fight’ evil, but ‘pass over it’ by exercising ‘emptiness’, accepting the person just as she or he is, worthy of love, regardless of the situation they are in. Love never counts the cost, but loves without measure and continues to love even when it is not accepted or understood. And love also makes us understand which concrete steps we can take, like the path of health care, or legal assistance in order to restore someone’s identity by obtaining legal documents for them. We also offer support in processing their experiences and discovering inner resources for carrying on with their lives, making them feel that they are both worthy of love and capable of loving. We never neglect to help them find a network of people with whom they can have healthy relationships that will allow them to insert in local community, workplace and independent living.

20150209-02Alessandra: “Randi is the baby girl who was born to Rebecca twenty two years ago in the hospital where I was working. She immigrated illegally to Livorno, Italy, and didn’t speak any Italian. But her anguish was apparent since, not having a Visitor Visa, she feared baby would be taken away from her. Welcoming her without judgement or prejudice, we were able to work out a solution for her. After a very short time more than seventy girls in similar or worse situations knew they could count on our association, which we named ‘Randi’.”

“What do we do?” Resi asks. “We often find ourselves in front of situations of slavery for economic gain. This is a business that moves a market of 24 billion euros and involves between 27 and 50 million human beings across the globe, most of them women and children. It is a real and very frightening trafficking that creates fear, isolation, and the inability to defend oneself against it in any way. Around half of the trafficking involves young women forced into prostitution. It really is not easy to draw near to these enslaved individuals who are carefully prevented from contact with the outside world. Sometimes we meet them by accident, when they come for treatment at hospital, or when we meet on a train. When they do come into contact with us, the spirituality of unity helps us to convey to them that they finally have someone they can trust. And this is where the miracle occurs, because perhaps for the first time they aren’t being asked for anything in return.”

Healing wounds is the great challenge of the Gospel. But we should also prevent them whenever possible. And this is the side that has been taken by crowds of men and women Religious who travel with the Good News to foreign lands where they promote the dignity of the person. The Focolare is doing the same in 53 countries on 4 continents, they are operating more than 100 development interventions that allow 15,000 children and their families to create concrete development opportunities that are spent in their own lands, in freedom.

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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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