Focolare Movement » Wellbeing & Ecology Official International Website Tue, 06 Oct 2015 13:49:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Is it possible to face suffering? Tue, 06 Oct 2015 06:00:20 +0000 IMG_3336Nancy O’Donnell has worked as a psychotherapist with drug addicts and was once in charge of a medical centre that helps alcoholic women and their children. The issue of the meaning of suffering is central to the lives of people especially during their illness.

We would like to ask if it is possible to face the problem of illness and find hope.
“Suffering is part of every human life and it would be very difficult to help those who suffer if we ourselves have not found meaning in our own suffering. The path towards hope lies in this effort. Science offers new treatments and new therapies to improve the lives of many. The danger is when we let ourselves be fooled, believing that we will find a way not to get old, sick or suffer. If we seek only the hope of healing, we run the risk of deceiving ourselves, and this may lead to desperation which is the opposite of hope.”

What is the role of psychology in the experience of the sick people, and in helping them to find hope? “We could summarise it in four points: the role of the personality and the possibility to change it, the importance of healthy relationships in facing disease, the need to know and accept one’s own limits, and the human capacity to be a gift to others.

Personality: being optimistic or having a positive attitude may reduce the risk of illnesses and chronic disorders. At the Davis University in California, they discovered that writing down each day the things you are grateful for helped to increase happiness. The results were more significant when compared with a group that was asked to note down instead, only the things that had provoked greater stress.

IMG_3290The second point: relationships. From the moment we are born, we have the capacity to establish relationships. The mental health of every person depends on his capacity to “coordinate” himself and “tune in” with others. The human mind is healthy when it possesses some strategic relational skills that allow it to “open up” to a multitude of social realities, that is, with the ability to “perceive” the others and their diversity in an adequate manner. If our identity is relational, it would be logical in moments when nurturing hope becomes a challenge to find the support of people close to us and with whom we have built deep relationships which strengthen the positive energy we need to remain hopeful.

Furthermore, not accepting one’s own limits is one of the most typical difficulties people have today. The limit appears through the person’s condition and his/her story, through those experiences that imply the risk of frustration. In a world that offers us a life “without limits,” the onset of illness takes on numerous expressions of that limitation which becomes a decisive transition towards achieving one’s own fulfillment.

Lastly, being a gift for the others even when your physical strength is greatly reduced makes a person play an active role always. This is where you acquire a dignity that is born in the depths of our being.”

Nancy O'Donnell_a
Dr Nancy O’Connell

Dr O’Donnell, do you see a link between psychology and spirituality?
“Yes, but it is an ambivalent bond. What helped me was that someone guided me in discovering the reconciliation between these two human dimensions: Chiara Lubich. I think that all of us try to find interior unity, where identity remains a secure base amid the various conflicts around and inside us. For me this unity comes from the life lived according to this spirituality.

For many years I worked with drug addicts, women alcoholics and then homeless men who had lost everything because of drug addiction. They were all crushed by desperation and it was difficult to make them see how to live. I tried to relay my certainty, regarding both their intrinsic dignity as well as the value of suffering. I would use an image that seemed useful. During rehab, they had some free time where some of them did puzzles. It was then that I wondered whether they had ever finished a puzzle and discovered that a piece was missing. I saw the lives somewhat in this manner: each piece is unique and the final beauty can be seen only when each of these pieces is in place. So every person can find his own beauty and the awareness of being worthy of irreplaceable love. And I got to the point of believing that I was created as a gift for the other, the way the other is for me.”

]]> 0
Chile: impossible not to love it Sat, 19 Sep 2015 04:00:17 +0000 20150918-01“I’ve lost everything’ tearfully declared a fisherman from Guanaquero – a small village 450 km north of Santiago, on the Pacific. “But we will start again, as we Chileans have always done.” The cameraman embraced him in a supportive manner. These were some reactions after the night of the earthquake. On the evening of Wednesday, 16 September, just before 8 p.m. the series of seismic waves began, with an intensity of 8.4 on the Richter scale. The following secondary waves also exceeded an intensity of 7.

The long seismic activity made us run to find refuge in the courtyard of our home. Our neighbours on the street also did so. “How are you all? Is all ok?” “Yes, don’t worry, and you?” we all asked one another. “Do you need anything?”

There was no fear, no agitation. Also the children knew what to do. In Chile all are taught on how to behave in the buildings, schools, and supermarkets where the safety zones are all marked out for the protection from possible collapsing buildings. After the experience of 2010 the country was more than adequately prepared.

In La Serena, 480 km north of Santiago, the capital, due to the intensity of the quakes we knew that the epicentre was very close. The lights went off and only when we found a radio transistor did we know that it was about a 100 km from here. A triangle of small towns of 20/30 thousand inhabitants, Illapel suffered great damages, but it was not so in the bigger towns.

Less than an hour had passed and the radio then confirmed the tsunami alert. Throughout the country, evacuation of the coast of 6,000 km had started, from the desert in the north to the cold south: a million people had to find refuge at an altitude of at least 30 km?? above sea level. The waves arrived in the form of huge masses of water that advanced and raised the sea level to at least four metres. The port of Coquimbo with 150 thousand inhabitants was partly submerged.

Then came the news of the victims. All were expecting it. It was just a few hours before our traditional celebrations for the independence of Chile, on the 18-19 September. The 12 victims and five missing would not be celebrating this year’s event. Among these, three died of heart attacks, another three were sucked up by the sea, and the others lost their lives due to falling rocks from the mountains or the collapse of walls. The government had declared a state of calamity in some provinces of the 4th Region.

The President, Michelle Bachelet, spoke to the country: the rescue system has been activated. Our thoughts go to those who lost all their possessions: villages of fishermen, the inhabitants of the epicentre zone. It is the eighth emergency in less than two years. The earthquake in the north last year, the floods, and in March the most arid region of the planet, the Atacama Desert, was submerged by floods. Then the volcanoes were next: one last year and an eruption a few months ago. Then there was the tremendous drought from north to south, Valparaiso overwhelmed twice by fires in the surrounding zones, and now the earthquake and tsunami alert…

Once the terrible list concluded, we recalled the words of the old fisherman of Guanaquero: “We shall overcome!” In his eyes I saw a reflection of determination and perseverance. The same values explained why on the bare and steep slopes of the mountains of this northern zone, suddenly immense green spots suddenly appeared with avocado and vine cultivations. They were literally pulled out from the soil, exploiting every drop of humidity for their irrigation. Only determination and perseverance can obtain fruits from nature that over here has nothing to offer. This is how we built this nation. It would be impossible not to love it »

Alberto Barlocci, from Chile

]]> 0
Changing the planet, caring for people Thu, 17 Sep 2015 06:00:38 +0000 20150917-02
Bernd Nilles (second from right) at the Focolare’s centre in Rocca di Papa, Rome.

Networked for the common good, in the aftermath of Laudato Si’, which asks for immediate concrete action, includes many others besides Bernd Nilles and Maria Voce, who all met at the International Centre of the Focolare in Rocca di Papa, Italy, on September 9, 2015, together with co-president Jésus Moran and several collaborators representing the youth and several agencies of the Focolare (AFN, New Humanity, AMU, EoC).

Working for lifestyle change is one of the main priorities of the CIDSE in this historic moment, and the the Secretary forcefully emphasizes it. Formed by the German Catholic Youth, Bernd Nilles is a human rights activist and has worked in cooperative projects with Colombia. He has also done research on peace and development, at the University of Duisburg. “You need a lot of motivation to do this work,” he remarks. The event at the beginning of June in the Vatican (people and planet first), allowed him to get to know the work of the Focolare Movement in the field of economy, and they began to find paths for common action.

Curious to know more, Bernd Nilles remarked: “We have years of experience on political influence, but not on personal transformation. You are the experts in tha!” Maria Voce explained: “The life of the Gospel never leaves things as they are, if we want change that is real, ideas and ideologies can caress the mind, the imagination – but the Gospel transforms, and the is a people the world over that strives to live in that way.”

The Encyclical Letter ‘Laudato Si’ was a source of inspiration for the NGO’s associated with the CIDSE, for an unprecedented mobilisation launch. The CIDSE is particularly involved in preparing global conferences on climate change that will be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11. The more important game is played outside the stadium where they work to create events, public manifestations and participation by the public. New Humanity (an NGO of the Focolare and partner of UNESCO), is working together with other NGO’s on the preparation of a Final Statement for the conference in Paris.

20150917-01The informal meeting will give CIDSE the Atlas of Fraternity, the first fruit of the United World Project, a platform promoted by Focolare young people where all the activities and projects in favour of “fraternity” can converge, indexed by category. Currently, efforts for peace made a strong impact through the hashtag #OpenYourBorders that gathered concrete projects and activities in support of refugees.

Jésus Moran commented: “I recommended ‘Laudato Si’ to many of my atheist friends, telling them ‘Here you’ll find some input for a radical change for living in the world, something that could even save the human race.” He went on to say: “It is a matter of promoting a lifestyle based on sharing. The change in model is not merely a cosmetic social change, but one of social justice towards those whose problem is not the environment, but hunger, access to water, death by diseases that have had a cure for centuries. Therefore, the discourse needs to be radicalized in the sense of social justice. Consciences need to be worked on with every means, beginning from concrete action and giving them visibility.”

See also

]]> 0
Post-retirement crisis? Never experienced it Tue, 15 Sep 2015 06:00:55 +0000 20150915-02“I don’t feel the exhaustion, but probably just the lack of sleep, since I have slept five hours less than usual over the last five days. I have just returned from a school camp or rather, a work in progress camp for kids, as one of the educators of Teens for Unity of the Focolare. It was a fantastic adventure which, compared to other activities this year, has enlivened my daily routine, making me forget that I have entered that potentially critical post-retirement phase. The proposal to give a hand for those kids was enticing. Well, I thought, I may be retired, but I still have the energy and eagerness to keep going.

The appointment was at nine in the morning in Borgo Don Bosco, a venue placed at our disposal by the Salesians. Slowly the kids arrived, 25 boys and girls in all, below 18 years of age. After the initial shyness a friendly atmosphere was immediately created, even if most of them had no idea whatsoever of what would come about or what to expect.

The programme was full of surprises, as it should have been for an initiative with young people. But also a surprise was the hard work (so to say!), sweating together under the sun, or drenched with rain, to clear out the site of the camp. For three mornings, I was assigned the task of restoring a remote corner of the garden, abandoned for over 20 years. The grass had grown on that soil transported by wind and rain, concealing an entire asphalted pavement. Locker rooms and showers were still there, and had become the hiding place of spiders and insects so big they seemed like an alien race. Without counting the various objects abandoned in the grass that initially could not even be seen, it was practically a jungle to be razed to the ground.

At mid-morning, I thought of telling the kids how I try to consider the work, and particularly that job. I must not have said more than 20-30 words in all. But I ended by confiding the real motive urging me to do this: the thought that “in that place, Baby Jesus would have come to play. I understood from the silence that had descended on us, that the kids understood the sense of my words and had taken it to heart. And the light I saw shining in their youthful eyes was immediately transformed into concrete action, giving them a new drive in helping one another. This immediacy was a lesson for me, since, unlike these boys and girls I myself am rather slow in letting myself be convinced by what others tell me.

At Sunday Mass, I found myself next to a boy who had worked by my side. On exchanging the sign of peace we both spontaneously reached out to one another, to declare that we were ready to give our lives for each other. As an adult this act would never have been so spontaneous towards another adult, but it was not so with him.

Staying with these young people gave a new dimension to our future as one humanity, and gave me hope. In fact, I saw that they all had the desire and capacity to give. It is up to us to believe in them. Adolescence is a difficult age, but it is also the age in which one can build great horizons. There is no need for words, just start “doing” positive things with them. Perhaps this is why, on saying goodbye, some of them asked to come with me next Saturday to the district market, to collect the unsold fruit and vegetables for the poor people’s canteen.”

]]> 0
Vincenzo’s decision to look after young cancer patients Mon, 07 Sep 2015 06:00:23 +0000 VincenzoFor over 3 months now I have been doing my apprenticeship in pediatric oncology, in a ward where you never know if the children you are assisting today will still be there tomorrow. It is absolutely not easy to live in continuous contact with the suffering of the innocent, since it gets to the point of putting to the test one’s decision to study pediatric nursing.

On the first day, I was ready for anything. But once I set foot in the ward, I came face to face with a beautiful little girl. She was afflicted by one of the worst types of malignant tumours, at the terminal stage. I had no idea at all of how I was to go about it. I had never ever felt so useless and incapable, and was convinced that there was nothing useful I could do for her. There are also other children in the ward, and the day seemed to pass very quickly, but every time I entered the little girl’s room I would feel the same sensation of helplessness and inadequacy. It was already 2 p.m.- time to end my shift. I felt I could not leave without doing something for her. But what?

In trying to put in practice the spirituality of unity, I had experimented that what matters in love is to love. That you do not need to do sensational things, just start with a small thing, without expecting great results. I felt I had done all I could for that little girl. So why was I feeling I could do more?

In the morning, upon entering the hospital, I had noted that there was a chapel. Perhaps, I thought, loving that child meant praying for her. So I sat on one of the last pews, but did not know what to ask for her. I just sat in silence, with a great, oppressing pain in my heart. Little by little I began to feel that Jesus was taking all my suffering onto himself. With a free heart I could then entrust the child to Him and then go once again to greet her and her mother, to make them feel my closeness and great support.

From that moment on, I continued going to that chapel often. It was there that I found the light to face and also comprehend in some way, the mystery of the suffering of the innocent, which we so frequently encounter. And it is the Crucified and Risen Christ who gives me the strength and the right attitude with which to approach the children and their relatives. Often I do not understand what I should do for them, but then the answer never fails to come.

One day a 10 year-old girl was interned. She had been tossed from one hospital to another. The suspicion was that she had a serious blood disease, which was confirmed, and all of a sudden, she and her mother collapsed as if they had been hit by the avalanche of a diagnosis that did not offer a way out. I felt the importance of standing by them and taking on their pain, helping them as I could, even if I had to stay a few hours more in the hospital. During the day I could not do much, but when I had some free time from my duties, I would go to their room, to listen to and reassure the mother and let the child play a bit. And every time I it seems like a veil of serenity returns to their eyes, a new hope in facing the trials awaiting them. I try to live this way in many other situations, taking every possibility to stay a bit with “my” kids, not only to administer their treatments but to see them smile and face with serenity their difficult paths.”

]]> 0
World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation Mon, 31 Aug 2015 06:00:01 +0000 20150831-aIt was a decidedly ecumenical move on the part of Pope Francis to dedicate a “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.” He not only identified the current ecological crisis as one of the most pressing urgencies of our time but also wanted to highlight the urgent need to act no longer fragmented and in isolation but “together” – not only in the field of ecology but in all the challenges facing humankind.

The idea of a World Day of Prayer had been suggested to him by Orthodox Metropolitan John of Pergamom who spoke at the public presentation of the Encyclical Letter Laudato sì on June 18th. To underscore the added value of a prayer that is made by agreement (Mt. 18:19), in the letter that institutes the Day of Prayer (June 8, 2015) the Pope exhorts: “Sharing the concern of my beloved brother, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, for the future of creation, and at the suggestion of his representative, Metropolitan John of Pergamum . . .” As if to say that it was not important who had the idea; we can always learn from each other! And to reiterate the idea, towards the end of the document, the Pope urges Cardinal Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christians Unity, “to ensure that it is coordinated with similar initiatives undertaken by the World Council of Churches.”

The World Council of Churches will dedicate the period between September 1st (the first day of the Orthodox Liturgical Year) to October 4th (feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar) – to a Time for Creation with a variety of initiatives in favour of the environment and its connection to justice and peace.

The Pope’s choice of September 1st for the yearly celebration of the World Day is quite significant, since it is the same as that of the Orthodox brothers and sisters and the day that begins the Time for Creation that was established by the World Council of Churches. Also significant is his wish that other churches and ecclesial communities join in, so that it might be a fruitful opportunity for giving witness “to our growing communion.”

The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities “the precious opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care,” and precisely because it is destined to involve Christians from various denominations speaking with one voice, it will be a further concrete and common message from Christians to the world.

A passion for the protection of Creation has also characterised the Focolare’s commitment with its international network EcoOne that offers a space for anyone working in the field of the environment to share ideas and concrete projects. The Movement’s involvement in the field of ecumenism is also significant, especially in places where there is a high concentration from people of different denominations.

For the Focolare the World Day of Prayer for the Protection of Creation represents a magnificent providential world event that will join its members in prayer, beseeching from God the preservation of the Home that welcomes the great human family. But it will also join together people of good will from all backgrounds and beliefs in coming up with new strategies and answers for the environment and for a more united world.

]]> 1
Cuba: I was in jail and you visited me Sat, 22 Aug 2015 06:00:20 +0000 PrisonSince 1994 I have worked in the Pastoral Jail of the Archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba which also includes the city of Guantanamo. Together with other volunteers we see to their needs and those of their relatives, because these people are really the poorest among the poor.

In 2007, when I encountered the spirituality of unity, it was if a ray of light penetrated me, and more than ever enlightened my service in jail and made me understand that in life we have to look for what unites and not what divides us. Sharing this way of life with others helped me a lot. Some said: «How can you deal with murderers and rapists, knowing that most of them do not even take notice of those who try to give them a hand…». This is true. At times it is so, but the spirituality of Chiara Lubich helps me to see in each of them the figure of Jesus crucified and abandoned. We only have to sow that small seed of the Gospel, without expecting anything in return. This conviction gives me strength and support and makes me feel less alone. It prevents me from falling into the temptation of leaving this service, and I can see that in the end, I will always receive more than what I have given.

It has been some time now since we started to bring the leaflet of the Word of Life every month to the prisoners and also their families. After some time, to our great surprise, we found that in the special surveillance sector, a small community of prisoners was created, led by a young man. Together they discuss about the contents of the leaflet and during the month they try to put it into practice and make really significant experiences.

“In my youth–Y recounted– I committed some crimes for which I am serving a life sentence. I am in the Guantanamo city jail (not far from the ill-famed American high-security jail). I found my faith in God through the members of the Focolare Movement, who for some years now have been visiting me regularly. I also wrote my story, where I talk about my meeting with God and of how it rekindled the hope in unending Life. Every day I try to put the Word of Life of the month into practice.»

One day, another prisoner, Y, told us on the phone: «I’m down with fever and have a strong headache. I really needed to talk to you and took the opportunity of a permit to call you. Talking to you is like a balsam for me. » I ensured him that we were praying for him, and that Jesus came to save us, notwithstanding the life we live on earth. He said that he was also convinced of this and added «this is what I pray for daily, and it gives me the strength to go on loving everyone.”

(Carmen, Santiago di Cuba)

]]> 0
The words I could never say to you Wed, 12 Aug 2015 06:00:15 +0000 Federico_de_Rosa
Federico with his Dad

I dream a lot and often. A recurring dream is that of a sunny day in which my sentiments and thoughts flow freely in a surge of words for all my friends. What a joy it is to be able to speak!”

Federico does not speak, even if he knows that communication does not only come about through language. The first symptoms were already evident at the first year of age. The more he grew the more his capacity to interact with reality diminished. At the age of three came the diagnosis. He was totally incapable of communicating, and was suffering from the strongest forms of generalised disorders in development, a very serious disorder that could be traced to the extensive and varied universe of autism.

At eight an event changed the course of his inability to communicate. He learned to write with the computer and could finally put down his first words, emotions, and feelings. The wall of silence had crumbled, breaking the gap with those he called the “neurotypes”.

In August 2002, the family was on a holiday in Palinuro. Federico has always been able to say some words, and brief but intense phrases. “Mum, what’s wrong with me?” “Why me?”. He then wrote the word “autism” on his computer. He was perfectly aware of it.

On 20 February 2010 he wrote to his friend, Gabriele: “I need you all to help me get out of my prison. You see, I feel so alone because I am unable to voice out my feelings. It is a great limitation. I don’t understand how you who are not autistic, manage to find immediately in your heads all the right words and say them so quickly and also with facial expressions that reflect what you want to say. It is normal for you, but it seems like a miracle to me. I find it so hard to write one letter at a time, and manage only if Dad is by my side.”

Quello_che_non_ho_dettoNow that he could write, his self-esteem grew, up to when he published a book Quello che non ho mai detto (“The words I have never said”) wherein, for the first time we can see the point of view of a boy who explains his syndrome with rare and precious observations. This is how he emerged from his isolation, and finally experienced the joy of sharing his emotions. He concluded his studies in science up to secondary school certificate stage.

To this day, Federico says almost nothing. “I assure you,” he wrote, ” that I am almost unable to speak verbally. I express myself with single words, and only rarely with a small phrase. I can write only in big and shaky capital letters.” And thanks to the computer, for the first time he was able to play with a friend and attend, together with his classmates, the first year of secondary school, and years later, participate “actively” in the meetings of the confirmation group. “Little by little, ” he recounts, “my laptop became an inseparable companion. With my computer and the support of a qualified person at my side, I can express my views in every situation.”

Today Federico studies percussion, has many friends, helps people with autism in their families with down to earth suggestions, and has a lot of plans for the future. “Now my life has found its course,” he wrote, “thanks to the operators who taught me how to use the system, and my parents who launched themselves in this adventure with enthusiasm. Today I am happy with my life, and a great part of the merit goes to them.”

But he’s not thinking just of himself: “How many autistic people could have become other Federicos if diagnosed properly and given early intervention and been greatly loved and supported?”. His dream for the future? “I wish to travel the world to meet families with infants who have a communication disorder, to try and interact with these children and to treat autism accordingly. Whenever a child needs me, I’ll be there to help.”

Source: Città Nuova online

]]> 0
USA: Earth, Faith and Peace 2015 Mon, 10 Aug 2015 06:00:34 +0000 20150810-01Young people from five religions and several Christian denomination, specifically chosen as emergent leaders in the environmental field, met at Mariapolis Luminosa of the Focolare in the State of New York, USA, to reflect on safeguarding the planet, our common home.

Guided by the ideals of Religions for Peace (RFP) and of the Focolare the Teach-in began with an analysis of the current situation of the environment and the strong link between global stability and climate change. The phenomenon of climate change calls for a new awareness and change of view, implied by the title of the three-day event. Perhaps it will find a solution thanks to the synergy between people from different religious backgrounds.

This was the wish of the organisers of Teach-in, which was held at the end of July 2015. Despite the variety of their beliefs they came to the same realisation that every effort in favor of the environment will be more efficacious inasmuch as it is done together.

Amongst the interventions were those of Rev. Richard Cizik (New Evangelical Partnership) and of the Rabbi Lawrence Troster, bioethicist who said that: “By 2050 we could have 50 million climate refugees, with serious consequences for peaceful coexistence amongst peoples.” His words were echoed by Asma Mahdi, oceanographer and member of Green Muslims, highlighting that the most vulnerable countries are Muslim: “In Bangladesh, for example, if the ocean level continues to rise, by 2050, 17% of the territory will be awash, forcing 18 million people to move elsewhere.” These are alarming figures, and several Polynesian islands would completely submerged.

20150810-03Amongst the speakers was Msgr. Joseph Grech from the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, who referred to several excerpts from Pope Francis’s Encyclical Letter Laudato si while underscoring how economy and ecology walk hand in hand, since all our actions have an impact on nature. Three environmental researchers from three different American universities were of the same opinon: Robert Yantosca (Harvard), Valentine Nzengung (Georgia) and Tasrunji Singh (Ohio), for whom the respective religious convictions have become motivating factors and guides in the scientific effort in favour of the environment.

20150810-04“Go out!” was the catch phrase that conducted the second part of the Teach-in and it led to the delineation of a series of behaviours to put into practice. John Mundell from the Focolare, owner of a company of environmental consultants, presented a landscape of initiatives connected to the “Earth Cube,” whose six sides present daily suggestions for renewing and conserving a healthy environment. There was also the visit to the projects at the nearby Esaurine Federal Reserve.

RFP executive Aaron Stauffer, stated at the conclusion: “It has been a witness of the power of multireligious cooperation and peace.” And Brazilian, Lira Raiana, who is finishing her doctorate in ecology: “We’ve experienced that we have at least two things in common: an intense interest in sustainability of the planet and a religious belief that offers the correct motivations to take care of it. Each one of us came with our convictions and personal ideas and now we find ourselves united in the common objective of many: the protection of the earth and of its inhabitants.”

]]> 1
Burundi: a suffering that generates love Sat, 25 Jul 2015 06:00:45 +0000 hope (350 x 249)“Jean Paul is in his last year at the Faculty of Engineering and has known the spirituality of unity for several years. Burundi is going through a difficult political situation, because of the upcoming election. The political impasse has provoked many controversies that give rise to clashes and protests. Some people have lost their lives. It was in this context of great instability and suffering that Jean Paul and a friend, returning home on foot because there was no public transport, found themselves in front of a new and unexpected countenance of Jesus forsaken.” The one reporting is Marcellus, along with the entire Focolare community of Burundi and Rwanda.

“It was the summer of May 2cnd when the two young men were assaulted by a group of wrongdoers. Jean Paul and his friend were brutally beaten to the point of unconsciousness. Helped by several police officers who found them thrown into a manhole, they were rushed to hospital. The friend had light injuries but Jean Paul was in serious condition: a fractured backbone and paralysis of the lower limbs. In spite of his serious state Jean Paul was always smiling and hoping to for a recovery. He entrusted himself to God and Chiara Lubich. “The fact that I’m still alive is already a miracle of hers,” he said.

In a short time news of what had happened to Jean Paul reached the community which, besides praying for him, began to look for the money to hire an ambulance that would return him to Rwanda, where he would receive adequate care. On May 12th he left for Kigali, Rwanda, accompanied by a nurse and Séverin, a young man from his Gen group.

The chain of love and prayer widened, involving the Rwandan and worldwide Focolare family, especially the Gen. Jean Paul and Séverin gave a strong witness of mutual love in Kigali, Rwanda.

In hospital the people were astonished that the visits to this boy were more numerous than to all the other patients. They were also amazed that by the fact that Jean Paul and Séverin were not brothers, from the same village or ethnicity. The boys explained to everyone that the engine behind their action was something else: the spirituality of unity based on the mutual love that Jesus asks of us.

After a few medical examinations, Jean Paul was operated on the back and chest, on June 10th in Roi Fayçal Hospital. The prices at the hospital were very high, but God intervened with Providence that was never lacking. Jean Paul, who never grew discourage, considers this experience a true miracle.  

The surgery went well and this was encouraging to everyone. Jean Paul was transferred to another facility where he began physical therapy, and close monitoring by his physician and the team that performed the surgery. His condition is showing incredible improvement. He is beginning to feel hungry, physiological needs, pain and sensitivity in his feet. He is able to get out of bed and move around the hospital in a wheel chair. He continues to say that if it weren’t for this extended family he wouldn’t be alive.

Jean Paul is very grateful to the Focolare community in Rwanda, to the Gen around the world, to the international Gen Centres, and to all those who have sent financial support and prayers. All our hearts overflow with gratitude to God for having given us the possibility of having this powerful experience that has aroused attention, communion, authentic love among His children and a powerful witness of the love that conquers all.”

]]> 2